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News and events in Williamstown, Mass.

Q&A: Templeton Makes Run for Senate to 'Step Up and Make a Change'
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:21PM / Friday, August 19, 2022
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — As the former owner of a business on Williamstown's Spring Street, the co-author of landmark resolutions passed at its town meeting and a frequent participant from the floor of committee meetings, Huff Templeton is well known in his hometown.   He is spending his summer raising his profile throughout the rest of Western Massachusetts.   In the spring, Templeton launched a campaign to represent the first Senate district in the state Legislature, a sprawling expanse of municipalities that includes all of Berkshire County plus parts of Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden Counties.   It runs from Williamstown in the northwest corner down to Southwick,

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State Land Court Lets Homeowners Repudiate Racist Covenants in Deeds
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:22AM / Friday, August 19, 2022
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — State Rep. John Barrett III could not get state law changed to allow homeowners to strike racist language from their deeds.   But he came pretty close, and the effort shed light on a problem that those homeowners can address, free of charge, in the documents that define their real property.   "As the Land Court put it, it's a win-win for everyone," Barrett said recently.   Back in 2020, he authored House 1465, a bill that would have allowed property owners to "request the Land Court to expunge a provision made void by this section."   The provisions in question were the sort that were created in the 1930s to prohibit

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Historic Store at Five Corners Reopens in Williamstown
By Brian Rhodes, iBerkshires Staff
12:50PM / Tuesday, August 16, 2022

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Under new ownership and management, the Store at Five Corners reopened Tuesday morning for the first time in more than two years. 

The store and cafe, built in 1770 and located in the town's Five Corners Historic District, had been closed since July 2020. The 252-year-old building, originally a tavern, went through several recent owners before being purchased by the nonprofit Store at Five Corners Stewardship Association in January of this year. 

"It took us a few months to get it to where it is right now but I feel like our hard work paid off," said store operator Corey Wentworth. "I feel like it's really nice in

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Williamstown Planning Board Seeks Input on Short-Term Rental Proposal
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
05:36AM / Monday, August 15, 2022
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Planning Board last week laid out its initial thinking about a potential short-term rental bylaw that it wants to bring to town meeting as early as May.   As articulated at its Aug. 9 meeting, the board's goal is to allow residents and part-time residents to generate some revenue from their properties, allow those homes to provide needed additional rooms for tourists during peak periods and still prevent non-residents from buying one or more properties to create de facto motels in residential neighborhoods.   "We really do want to maintain short-term rentals as an economic opportunity for people in town," Chair Stephanie Boyd said.

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Mount Greylock Gets Final Tab for School Building Project
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
06:17AM / Saturday, August 13, 2022
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The final bill to Williamstown and Lanesborough for the construction project at Mount Greylock Regional School came in at $33 million, according to a final audit presented to the School Committee on Thursday evening.   The Massachusetts School Building Authority gave the district its final audit on July 28. Superintendent Jason McCandless told the committee that the final cost of the renovation/addition project at the middle/high school is $64,693,600, just more than $44,000 less than the budget approved back in 2016.   But the MSBA's contribution is about $1.5 million lower than the maximum grant projected by the state agency at the outset of the

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Letter: Why I Support Paul Mark
Letter to the Editor,
04:00PM / Thursday, August 11, 2022

To the Editor:

I've known Paul Mark all his political life, and we couldn't ask for a better person to be our next state senator in Boston. Paul is an experienced and practical progressive who will hit the ground running in the state Senate.

In 2010, Paul was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives to serve the 2nd Berkshire district. And ever since, he has fought for working families, calling for Medicare-for-all, higher-education funding reform, student debt relief, funding for vocational programs, and major transformative solutions to the climate crisis, among other issues.

Yes, Paul knows what it means to work. He came from humble circumstances to earn associate,

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Williamstown Select Board Finalizes Charge for Charter Review Panel
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
05:15AM / Wednesday, August 10, 2022
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Select Board on Monday approved the marching orders for the first comprehensive charter in more than six decades.   It also sought to temper expectations about the scope of the Charter Review Committee that the board hopes to appoint next month.   "This is not just the charter," said Andy Hogeland, who drafted the charge with Jeffrey Johnson. "This is the state laws and bylaws that affect the structure of town government – so not a substantive thing but a mechanical, structural review is our focus.   "We added in here a couple of sentences that this review is not about non-structural things. This is not about

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Letter: Andrea Harrington for DA
Letter to the Editor,
07:08PM / Tuesday, August 09, 2022

To the Editor:

The election of Andrea Harrington was part of a wave of progressive DAs across the country elected by people who recognize that our justice system is too often unjust and in need of meaningful change.

District Attorney Harrington has been true to her word as a reformer. Her opponent embraces the old paradigm that the justice system is the right way to rehabilitate, and embraces the use of diversion programs embedded in the justice system— expensive programs that expand the criminal legal system.

District Attorney Harrington embraces an approach grounded in public health and a harm-reduction approach. She embraces diversion to public health programs that do not sit

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Williamstown Farm Reimagined as Education, Rescue Center
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
07:09AM / Sunday, August 07, 2022

Jane Swift shows some of the potpourri she has produced from cuttings from around the farm.   WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — As she shows off the potpourri produced from cuttings around her Henderson Road farm, Jane Swift can joke that she has the best smelling barn in the Berkshires.   "We're so lucky to live here," she says. "This is all stuff I just picked. People probably think I'm crazy. I go around sniffing stuff on the farm."   In the near future, Swift hopes to add some new smells to the mix.   She is working to transform the century-old family farm into the Cobble Hill Farm Education and Rescue Center.   And by the late

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Williamstown Planners Still Split on Upzoning Proposals
By Stephen Dravis,
02:53PM / Saturday, August 06, 2022
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – It took just two meetings of the newly constituted Planning Board for old fault lines to reemerge.   About two hours into its July meeting, the board took up the question of how to address the numerous zoning bylaw amendments that were "referred to committee" by June’s annual town meeting.   Several members of the five-person board indicated that some of the articles still merited consideration by the body and could return to town meeting in some form and with further explanation and analysis.   Roger Lawrence was not having it.   "I feel discouraged and got a sense of deja vu concerning this conversation," Lawrence

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Pittsfield Soccer League Summer Final Set
iBerkshires.com Sports,
09:05PM / Wednesday, August 03, 2022
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The Maroons and the Crows survived Wednesday’s semi-finals in the Pittsfield Soccer League with a pair of 1-0 wins at Wahconah Park.   The second-seeded Crows used a first-half goal from James Pow to knock off Barcelona.   On an adjacent field, Matt Naventi scored a first-half goal to send the Maroons past the Vultures and into next Wednesday’s league championship game.   Eight teams began play this summer in the 10-year-old league.   PSL organizer Nigel Gayle said that about 130 players participated in the weekly seven-on-seven contests.   The 18-and-over co-ed league summer league is one of several adult leagues in

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Williamstown Planners Advise Conservation of Oblong Road Parcel
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:30AM / Wednesday, August 03, 2022
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Planning Board last week advised the Select Board to assign to a local non-profit the town's option to buy a 10-acre parcel of farmland on Oblong Road.   In a unanimous vote, the planners recommended the town assign its right of first refusal to the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation for a lot currently conserved under Chapter 61 of Massachusetts General Law.   Under Chapter 61, land in agriculture is eligible for property tax relief. Part of the tradeoff for the landowner is that when the land is sold, the municipality has the right of first refusal.   The parcel's current owner, Beth Phelps, has a purchase and sales agreement for

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