Egremont Country Club shuts for good amid pending sale
Posted Friday, May 29, 2020 2:48 pmFull story at https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/egremont-country-club-shuts-for-good-amid-pending-sale,605757
By Heather Bellow , The Berkshire EagleGREAT BARRINGTON — The Egremont Country Club has decided to close for the 2020 season due to COVID-19 and the pending sale of the property, according to a notice on the club’s website.
The buyer is a mystery, however — the club’s owners could not be reached on Thursday.
But part-owner and manager Frank Mazzarelli recently announced to the “friends of ECC” that he closed the 18-hole golf course permanently.
“As you know my intentions were to have a great last season of golf here at ECC,” he said in an email. “Then the COVID-19 put an abrupt halt to those plans and made it impossible to even try to open this year.”
One listing on Land and Farm shows the 225-acre property, with its banquet and other buildings, listed for $1.8 million by Lance Vermeulen Real Estate, but now off the market.
Bousquet Ski Area to be sold to Mill Town Capital
Posted Friday, May 29, 2020 12:02 pm
Full story at https://www.berkshireeagle.com/…/bousquet-ski-area-to-be-so…
By The Berkshire Eagle
PITTSFIELD — A capital investment firm is purchasing Bousquet Ski Area and plans to keep the ski operations running.
Mill Town Capital on Friday announced it is acquiring the ski area from the Tamarack Ski Nominee Trust and owners Sherry and PJ Roberts.
The sale is expected to close Friday and includes 155 acres across four parcels, including the summit of Yokun Ridge, 22 trails, multiple buildings, and operational equipment, according to a release from Mill Town Capital.
With fewer seats and high hopes, Barrington Stage preps for August return
Full story at https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/with-fewer-seats-and-high-hopes-barrington-stage-preps-for-august-return,605746
By Amanda Burke, Berkshire Eagle
PITTSFIELD — As she watched contractors remove seats from every other row at Barrington Stage Company’s Boyd-Quinson Mainstage on Union Street, Julianne Boyd felt a sense of hope. It was one way the company is promoting social distancing when the theater becomes one of the first in the region to reopen, with a one-person production of “Harry Clarke,” in early August. This season’s performances will be staged under conditions that Boyd, the company’s artistic director, says likely will last until a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 is developed.
On Thursday afternoon, Chris Adams, Shamir Tillery and Brandon Kingsbury of AJ Schnopp Jr. Construction unbolted dozens of seats and loaded them into a truck parked outside, to be carted away to storage, all part of the company’s plan to reduce audience capacity from 520 to 163. Small performance venues are allowed to reopen in phase three of Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, which could begin, at the earliest, in July. If everything goes according to Barrington Stage’s plan, face-masked patrons will filter in to the first show of the summer season Aug. 5.
Jazz weekend canceled; on other events, organizers to play it by ear
The Berkshire Eagle
Full story at https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/jazz-weekend-canceled-on-other-events-organizers-to-play-it-by-ear,605716?
LEE — Citing COVID-19 health concerns, Berkshires Jazz has canceled this year’s Berkshire Gateway Jazz Weekend.
Co-sponsored by Berkshire Gateway Preservation and Berkshires Jazz, the ninth annual Gateway festival had been scheduled for June 12-14 in First Congregational Church and various other downtown locations.
Berkshires Jazz’s other spring programming also has been postponed, according to Berkshires Jazz President Ed Bride. Through a grant from Chamber Music America, Berkshires Jazz has been able to reschedule an April 25 concert by flutist Andrea Brachfeld and her trio, Insight, to Sept. 25 at St. James Place in Great Barrington.
The race — which had been postponed from April to Sept. 14 due to coronavirus — will be held as a virtual event.
Click headline for full story
The Checkup: State making more data available on extent of COVID-19 infection
Posted Thursday, May 28, 2020 6:54 pm
By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle
With this daily feature, The Eagle runs down breaking local developments in the coronavirus crisis.
NEW DATA ROLLS OUT: As of this week, the state is making more data available on the extent of COVID-19 infection. The new statistics include results regarding testing in nursing homes, as well as deaths in nursing facilities reported by the institutions.
In Berkshire County, only three nursing facilities continue to be listed, as before, as having confirmed cases: Fairview Commons in Great Barrington, Timberlyn Heights in Great Barrington and Williamstown Commons in Williamstown.
Meantime, while the state has been providing weekly data on confirmed cases by city and town, those reports now also provide a tally on the number of tests performed for individual communities and the rate of positive test results.
Starting today, The Checkup will include those new numbers when it relays the report on individual communities
Great Barrington extends suspension of plastic water-bottle ban; public water stations remain closed
Great Barrington — The town is again extending its suspension of the ban on plastic water-bottle sales, this time through Monday, Aug. 31, due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. In addition, the town will not reopen its public water stations during 2020.
Berkshire food pantries inundated as kindness rises to meet surging hunger
GREAT BARRINGTON — On a bright Wednesday in this Berkshires spring of doom, Jessica Speer-Holmes and her three daughters are inside the dark pantry, packing bags full of food for people who might otherwise go hungry.
Some bags are heavier for those larger households whose occupants have found themselves jobless over the past two months. Fifty bags are ready for pickup on Thursday — an additional 100 were packed this morning.
The spirited Holmes girls — Zoe, 15, Annabel, 12, and Tess, 10 — say doing this beats the remote learning “busy work” from school. Before the pandemic lockdown, people never thought they’d need help buying food, said Anne Hutchinson, director of operations at The People’s Pantry at Saint James Place. And the number of people the volunteer-run pantry feeds every week is at more than 350, more than triple that of pre-lockdown. Is also has increased its volunteers and, with grant money, had to hire someone to coordinate food distribution.
The Checkup: RMV again pushes back vehicle inspection, registration deadlines
RMV PUSHES DATES: Once again, the Registry of Motor Vehicles is giving people more time to do their favorite chores: re-upping your car registration, renewing your driver’s license or even getting your vehicle inspected.
On the matter of inspections, this is likely to be the last time the RMV works the clock, given the ability of inspection stations to operate.
Those with learner’s permits who hoped to be fully licensed by summer can stop hoping. Only those holding commercial permits can schedule road tests, the RMV said Tuesday.
If your regular or commercial driver’s license expired in March or April or does so this month, those are now valid through September. All passenger vehicle registrations that expired or will expire by June are now good through July. The RMV has a chart on its website listing all the new due dates for paperwork to be completed.
Pandemic economy forces scaling down of ‘transformative’ Eagle Mill project
Lee — Though there are indications that the state’s economy is emerging from its hibernation after the roll-out last week of the four-phase reopening plan put forth by Gov. Charlie Baker, there are still signs that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will linger or perhaps even have long-lasting effects on the local economy.
Several iconic cultural institutions in the Berkshires have canceled their live summer seasons, including Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, Shakespeare & Company, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Kripalu, the nation’s largest yoga retreat, laid off more than 450 employees and is closed for the rest of the year at least. These cancellations and their effects have caused some to reimagine the region’s economy.
Agency lands grant to give free legal advice to those in need in May
Berkshire Center for Justice adds balance to scales of law for low-income and poverty-stricken
Posted Saturday, May 9, 2020 3:53 pm
GREAT BARRINGTON — You’ve just been served with a notice of eviction, but there’s no money to pay the rent. There’s no food for you or your children. Moreover, there’s a pandemic going on.
You have nowhere to go, and the last place you’re thinking of is a lawyer’s office, because you can’t afford to eat, let alone hire a lawyer.
Think again. Since 2006, the Berkshire Center for Justice has been serving the region’s indigent and low-income residents, providing or connecting them with legal, social and community supports, says Eve Schatz, the center’s founder, executive director and an attorney.
The nonprofit agency was just awarded $5,000 from Berkshire United Way’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund; the center was selected for the grants by a panel from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Berkshire United Way, Northern Berkshire United Way, and Williamstown Community Chest, along with community volunteers.
TurnPark Art Space, a 16-acre former quarry turned sculpture park and cultural center on Moscow Road in West Stockbridge, is suspending its 2020 May through October season, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The planned retrospective of TurnPark Art Space architect Alexander Konstantinov, who passed away in 2019, as well as exhibitions from Doug Fitch and Arcady Kotler, will be postponed to 2021. All planned outdoor activity, including performances and workshops, will either be canceled or postponed to future dates. The Gatehouse and Garage Galleries, and the gift shop will remain closed until further notice. However, the grounds will remain open to the public, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, in accordance with current public safety guidelines.
In Lenox the historic Blantyre resort will be closed to individual guests until next May in response to the coronavirus pandemic and its severe impact on the leisure and business travel industry. During the temporary shutdown, General Manager Stephen Benson told The Eagle, the 110-acre “luxury Country House” property at 16 Blantyre Road will be available for meetings, retreats, life celebrations and weddings after lodging restrictions are eased by Gov. Charlie Baker, anticipated in late June or early July. Benson explained that the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s recent cancellation of its Tanglewood live performance schedule extinguished the resort’s last flicker of hope to salvage the summer season as reservations plummeted at a tremendous pace.
Due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Berkshire County’s unemployment rate soared to 16.6 percent in April
According to figures released Tuesday by the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The jobless rate in the county’s two cities is even higher, climbing to 18.7 percent in North Adams and 18.8 percent in Pittsfield. The state unemployment rate is 15.9 percent. The results released Tuesday are not seasonally adjusted. The county’s labor force dropped by 5,000 in April to 57,586 and the number employed by some 12,000 to 48,003. The number of unemployed jumped by 7,000 to 9,583 in April from 2,432 the previous month. The Berkshire unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in March and 3.5 percent 12 months ago.
SHEFFIELD — Police and the town’s animal control officer are continuing to search for a raccoon that attacked and bit a woman sitting on the riverbank near the Old Covered Bridge on Sunday afternoon. Town officials closed park after the incident, and it will remain closed until the animal is destroyed and tested for rabies, or until enough days pass that the raccoon will have died of the disease, said town Police Chief Eric Munson III. Munson said that the woman had immediately gone to the hospital and is being treated for rabies as a precaution. The only way to know if the raccoon is infected is to kill it and test for it, he added.
Soar subject: 131st Fighter Squadron Memorial Day flyover planned for LenoxLENOX — Unless called on for a last-minute mission, the 131st Fighter Squadron unit of the Massachusetts Air National Guard is set to fly over Main Street on Memorial Day. Full story click on headline
Little was left standing at the Great Barrington Fairgrounds after the great tornado of 1995 ripped through the southern end of town. Photo: Gary Leveille
Remembering the ‘great’ Great Barrington tornado 25 years later
Great Barrington — It was the night Satan himself roared through Great Barrington, leaving a path of death and destruction in his wake.
This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the Memorial Day tornado, whose still-visible scars on East Mountain tower above the Great Barrington Fairgrounds from across the Housatonic River.
A Great Barrington woman, Ann Marie Formel-Woodger is now facing charges after allegedly stealing a car last Monday and heading into New York state, crashing twice in Egremont before ending up in a culvert in Hillsdale, N.Y. she was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson, N.Y., after being found in a field near the site of the last crash. She was charged in Egremont with a marked lanes violation, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident, and operating after suspension. Great Barrington police say they plan to bring charges related to the auto theft, and that they are still investigating.
Four Berkshire County nonprofit performing arts venues are among 52 statewide to receive money in the first round of Gaming Mitigation grants from Massachusetts Cultural Council.The four are Barrington Stage, $3,607; Berkshire Theatre Group, $7,196; Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, $67,197; and Williamstown Theatre Festival, $12,080.
Also included in the total $3.34 million package is $250,000 for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
The grants are designed to help mitigate the challenges these venues face when competing directly with resort casinos to book touring artists
The Berkshire economy absorbed another shock Thursday when one of South County’s largest employers announced that it will lay off 90 percent of its almost 500 employees next month. Due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health is planning to lay off 450 of the retreat center’s 489 total employees June 17, CEO Barbara Vacarr said Thursday. Kripalu’s employees were notified Wednesday of the staff reductions.The remaining 39 employees will receive salary cuts based on the amount of their yearly compensation, with the highest-paid staffers receiving the biggest pay reductions, Vacarr said. The remaining members of Kripalu’s peer leadership team are receiving 40 percent pay cuts. All of the laid-off employees will be eligible to apply for unemployment compensation, Vacarr said. Kripalu hopes to bring back as many employees as possible when it reopens in 2021, she said.
Monument snags six-figure grant for reimagining teaching and learning
Monument snags six-figure grant for reimagining teaching and learning
Earlier this week, the school learned it had received an implementation grant of $336,709 from Mass IDEAS, an initiative launched by Next Generation Learning Challenges with support from the Barr Foundation and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Monument was one of only three schools in the state to receive such a grant.Mass IDEAS’ stated organizational goal is to “incubate high-quality, innovative school models in order to transform K-12 public education across the Commonwealth.” And that’s precisely what the funds will be used for at Monument.
Great Barrington begins reopening parks with safety guidelines
Great Barrington — As the state gradually eases its shutdown in the coming weeks, town parks are reopening for passive recreation though playground equipment remains off limits for now. Lake Mansfield will also be open but no swimming is allowed at this time.
Park visitors are reminded that individuals and family groups must remain 6 feet away from others; face coverings are required for anyone over age 2 when social distancing is not possible; and frequent hand-washing is encouraged before and after park visits, as well as during visits as feasible.
Berkshire County has had no coronavirus deaths for 16 days, while the case count hit the 500 mark, state officials announced Wednesday. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which issues the COVID-19 statistics daily, had recorded 497 cases since Sunday. Statewide, 128 new deaths were reported by the state, for a total now of 6,066. The coronavirus case count rose by 1,045 to 88,970.
Great Barrington board shoots down parking lot, foils real estate sale
By Heather Bellow, The Berkshire Eagle
GREAT BARRINGTON — A company’s plans for a private parking lot downtown were foiled on Monday by town officials who said the lot doesn’t provide enough benefit to the town to outweigh the negatives.
The Select Board’s decision also sunk the Torrico family’s plans to sell their 11 School St. property to Philips International Holding Corp. for construction of the lot.
In a 4-1 vote on a special permit sought by Philips to raze the building, the board rejected the proposal on a number of grounds that boiled down to insufficient tax revenue to the town, and a conflict with the town’s master plan guidelines for downtown development that includes housing and amenities.
Detox center plan in Great Barrington stirs up neighbor
A next-door neighbor is opposing plans for a 16-bed detox center slated for the former Eagleton School property. Matthew Merritt, who owns land that was once part of the school’s sprawling grounds, told the town Select Board on Wednesday that the presence of it could hurt his property values. He is also worried about crime by clients of the program. The owners of a company that run seven similar programs in four states say that their medically-assisted treatment programs are for people who want to get sober, and that clients in their facilities are there by their own choice. The public hearing for MRI’s special permit is continued to June 8 to give the company time to return with more information
South Berkshire towns answer call for Memorial Day wave parades
By Dick Lindsay, The Berkshire Eagle
Full story at https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/south-berkshire-towns-answer-call-for-memorial-day-wave-parades,604999
At the suggestion of state Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, several towns in his 4th Berkshire District plan to hold wave parades on Memorial Day. He hopes veterans will ride in vehicles to lead each parade, followed by police, fire and ambulance vehicles, allowing residents to cheer the veterans and first responders on predetermined route through those communities. The wave parades would replace traditional Memorial Day parades and ceremonies, many of which have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The dean of the Berkshire legislative delegation says his hometown of Lenox along with Lee, Stockbridge, Sheffield and West Stockbridge, so far, are planning veterans wave parades.
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