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Berkshires Beat: South Church Raising Money for Solar Panels
12:07PM / Monday, June 10, 2019
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South Congregational Church's historical downtown Pittsfield building is a welcoming complex that serves as a meeting house for many groups in our community.

Solar project

To offset the growing cost of electricity required to sustain its much-needed community missions, South Congregational Church in Pittsfield has embarked upon a solar energy project. Vivint Solar is installing 100 solar panels on the church roof this summer, at a cost of $103,500. The church is seeking to raise funds to pay for the cost of this energy-saving solar project.

South Congregational Church's historical downtown Pittsfield building is a welcoming complex that serves as a meeting house for many groups in our community. Community organizations such as Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Pittsfield Squares, Music Together, and the Pembury Bridge Club meet regularly in the church’s spaces. South Congregational also serves as an ecumenical gathering space for area faith organizations and missions.

One of South Congregational Church’s primary missions is to address the issue of food insufficiency in the Berkshires, assisting the most vulnerable in our community. The church's Community Food Pantry is the largest food pantry distribution in Berkshire County, serving 550 families each week. The Food Pantry receives 7,000 pounds of food each week, much of which requires storage in our newly updated freezer and walk-in coolers — the most significant consumers of electricity in the building.

The church also serves 80 to 100 hot, nutritious dinners each Wednesday at Saint Joseph's Kitchen, and recently began serving breakfast twice weekly. South Church is also home to the annual Thanksgiving Angels community collection and distribution of Thanksgiving meal ingredients to 1,300 local families.

There are expenses associated with South Church’s community missions and services. In addition to manpower (780 volunteer hours per month), electricity costs approximately $9,000 a year to power the refrigerators and freezers that preserve the food for our Community Food Pantry, Saint Joseph's Kitchen, and Thanksgiving Angels. The church has decided to offset this cost of electricity by installing solar panels on the roof of the building.

The total cost of the project is $103,500. In addition to fundraising, the church is investigating grant opportunities and Massachusetts (SMART) solar tax incentives. Solar panel installation will offset approximately 85 percent of electricity used by the church. The lifespan of these panels is about 30 years.

Donations will support South Church's efforts to create a sustainable gathering space that will continue to allow the church to serve our community in the long term. Donations of all sizes are welcome; each solar panel costs $1,035. Donations can be made online or checks can be mailed directly to the church at 110 South Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201.

South Church is officially kicking off the Solar Energy Project on June 21 at 7 p.m. with a Bread & Roses Coffee House featuring The Hoping Machine performing songs of Pete Seeger in the South Church parlor. Admission is by donation.


Fireworks support

The city of North Adams seeks donations to help support the annual Fourth of July fireworks. Regarded as one of the most prestigious in Western Massachusetts, the event draws thousands of people from the region and is a great night for friends and families to come together to enjoy an evening in North Adams, celebrating our nation’s independence.

Contributions of any amount are welcome; the following are suggested levels: Patriot Sponsor, $100 and under; Firecracker Sponsor, $250; All-American Sponsor, $500; Roman Candle Sponsor, $1,000; and Grand Finale Sponsor, $2,500. Checks can be made payable to Office of Community Events, City of North Adams, 10 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247 with "fireworks" in the memo. All contributions to this city-sponsored event are tax-deductible and will be publicly acknowledged.


Pontoosuc Lake treatment

Pontoosuc Lake will be treated with aquatic herbicides on Thursday, June 13, to control invasive and nuisance aquatic vegetation. The entire lake will be closed to all water uses, including, swimming, fishing and boating on the day of treatment.

These activities may resume on Friday, June 14.Use of the lake water for irrigation (i.e. watering lawns, gardens or plants of any kind) is prohibited for five 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.


Four Freedoms in France

Laurie Norton Moffatt, Norman Rockwell Museum director/CEO, joined world representatives and dignitaries at the Caen Mémorial Museum to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy on June 6 and introduce the first ever European exhibition featuring Norman Rockwell's original Four Freedoms paintings in the touring exhibition "Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms."
Moffatt was joined by Ruby Bridges, a museum trustee, civil rights activist, and subject of Rockwell's painting "Problem We All Live With" depicting Ruby’s historic walk to the first desegregated school in New Orleans in 1960, and Daisy Rockwell, artist, writer and granddaughter of Norman. Moffatt, Bridges and Rockwell were guest speakers at numerous events throughout the week.
Born amid the turmoil of WWII, the original Four Freedoms were ideals elucidated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want. Its presence in France is a major Franco-American cultural event of 2019.

Each year, the Caen Mémorial Museum produces and displays two to three temporary exhibits on subjects that complement its permanent exhibition on World War II and the Cold War by contributing cultural, research-related, or educational expertise. "Rockwell, Roosevelt, and the Four Freedoms" will be the first exhibit of paintings of this scope in 30 years.
More than 80 works of art, objects, documents and illustrations illuminating the historic context in which FDR articulated the Four Freedoms and the role of Rockwell's paintings in bringing them to life for millions of people, rallying the public behind the War effort and changing the tenor of the times. The exhibition demonstrates the power of illustration to communicate ideas and inspire change. After France, the exhibition tour continues to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Denver Art Museum; and returns to Norman Rockwell Museum in September 2020.


Mental health clinician

The Great Barrington Police Department has taken a major step toward providing critical resources for those suffering from mental illness. The department has partnered with The Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to make mental health clinician Ivy Goodwin available at the police station for two days each week. While on duty with Great Barrington Police, she will serve as a co-responder to calls in which an individual displays signs that they are affected by a mental illness.

In that role, Goodwin will assist people in crisis, outline services available to those in need, complete follow-up visits with residents to ensure they are receiving all of the help available to them. The professional clinician will often respond to mental health-related calls in order to expedite the process of connecting those in need with appropriate resources.

The Mental Health Co-Responder Program is designed to increase earlier identification and intervention for citizens with mental illness who have contact with law enforcement. The goal is to decrease the likelihood that those individuals will be arrested and enter into the criminal justice system because of behaviors related to their mental illness.


Taxi Ticket program ending

Beginning July 1, Berkshire Regional Transit Authority’s (BRTA) Taxi Ticket program will no longer sell blue taxi tickets, as this program will be ending. Due to the significant decline in ridership, the BRTA Advisory Board approved the recommendation to discontinue this service. Any blue taxi ticket already purchased can be redeemed until June 30, 2020.

The BRTA has other transportation options available, from buses to the paratransit program.  BRTA has a new evening bus service starting on July 1 traveling from Pittsfield to North Adams, Pittsfield to Great Barrington, and Berkshire Community College to Berkshire Crossing. For more information, visit the website.

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