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State Drops Criminal Charges But Pipeline Protesters Demand Trial
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:05PM / Thursday, May 11, 2017
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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Sixteen of the 24 protesters arrested fighting a natural gas pipeline being built on state forest land in Sandisfield showed up in court Thursday morning ready to proudly say they are not criminals.   The state agreed their actions didn't warrant criminal charges and entered a motion to convert those charges to civil citations. Those who were arrested and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct then left the courtroom without an arraignment.   But the protesters say they were already treated like criminals through the arrests and being brought up on criminal charges in the first place. They want a trial on those original charges because

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Lanesborough Couple Fighting to Save Historic, Family Farm
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
06:39AM / Sunday, April 30, 2017
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Thomas Olsen grew up on a farm in Norway.   In 1923, he and his wife, Randi, immigrated to the United States, landing in New York. But the city life wasn't for him. He told his wife, "it's no way for a man to live" and every week he'd stash money aside in hopes to move to the country.   The Depression or some other factor would hit and he'd lose the savings and build it back up. And every week he'd stop at the bank and browse the real estate listings.   In 1938, one of those listings intrigued him. He hopped a train to Pittsfield and soon found himself in love with 95 acres in the town of Lanesborough. Without

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North Adams, Clarksburg Among Newest Green Communities
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
10:38PM / Wednesday, April 19, 2017
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North Adams has received a Green Communities Grant of $194,580 that will help it save that and more in energy costs every year.    "All told, the five-year plan will cut energy consumption by an estimated 6,800 MBTUs, which is equivalent to taking 110 cars off the road and an estimated energy savings of $225,000 per year," said Commissioner Judith Judson of the Department of Energy Resources in the presentation at City Hall on Wednesday.    The city was one of five communities presented with certificates, big checks and signage proclaiming them the newest members of the state's Green Communities program by Judson and Energy

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North County Seniors And Students Prepare Food Bags
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
06:37AM / Saturday, March 25, 2017
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ADAMS, Mass. — North County seniors and students teamed up to make and fill bags for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts' Brown Bag program.   Seniors made an assembly line at the Visitors Center on Friday morning and filled 96 decorated bags with food for other seniors throughout the county.   "This is a program through the Food Bank and once a month, seniors volunteer and prepare these bags for income eligible seniors ... all the food they put in the bags they bring back to their communities," Council on Aging Director Erica Girgenti said. "It seems like such an easy project but it brings joy to so many people."    She said the

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Local Environmentalists Oppose Policies Supporting Natural Gas
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:00PM / Tuesday, March 21, 2017
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DALTON, Mass. — Dicken Crane has a large solar array on his Holiday Brook Farm. He has a forest management program to harvest timber to burn in a wood furnaces.

He doesn't need more natural gas.

Crane is one of some 500 businesses that have signed onto a petition against Gov. Charlie Baker's push for access to more natural gas.    Baker has been supportive of new natural-gas infrastructure and had previously introduced a proposal to allow electric utilities to levy a tax on users to pay for infrastructure, particularly the price to build new pipelines, but that was rejected by the Supreme Judicial Court.   Proponents of natural gas have long said it

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Adams Sets Challenge to Make 8,400 Recycled Shopping Bags
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
04:14PM / Friday, February 24, 2017
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ADAMS, Mass. — The town of Adams is setting a challenge: to create 8,400 recycled shopping bags by Earth Day on April 22.

The local BagShare Project uses recycled materials — mainly plastic woven feed bags and used irrigation tubing — to create free reusable bags for consumer use.  Brought to North Berkshire by Leni Fried and Mike Augspurger of the Old Stone Mill, the town's taken up the challenge to create a sustainable bag for every resident in Adams ahead of the plastic bag ban that goes into effect on March 30 for larger retailers.

"As most of you know, the bag ban was voted last year ... primarily large retailers will not be able to give out

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Clarksburg Receives $142,000 Green Communities Grant
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
01:46AM / Friday, February 03, 2017
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Clarksburg has officially gone green. And the result is a $141,590 state grant to make this town of 1,700 more energy efficient.

Clarksburg was one of 30 new Green Communities announced by the Baker administration on Thursday. They are eligible for grants totaling $6,460,385 to complete renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Town Administrator Carl McKinney was in the middle of a webinar on the use of LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, when contacted on Thursday, and his first response was "Yay!"

"It's been about a 14-month process and a lot of work, a lot of research," said McKinney, who lead the charge over the past year to push

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North Adams Planners Want Original Solar Array Renderings
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
04:02AM / Tuesday, November 15, 2016
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board called a solar array developer on the carpet Monday for failing to comply with the visual renderings it presented.

But no one can find the plans that the board approved.

A 1.32-megawatt solar array off Reservoir Road has sparked complaints because of its high visibility from numerous points on the city's east side. The board says the plans submitted last year portrayed a much different view with a far less visible array.

Clean Energy Collective representatives were asked to return on Monday with the original renderings of the project.  

"We certainly have been hearing from many people in the community and based on our

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Redwood Motel Project Lays Groundwork for Bridge, Trails
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
01:51AM / Tuesday, November 15, 2016
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Redwood Motel developers are laying the groundwork for a pedestrian bridge over the Hoosic River and hiking trails on the river's north side.

The Conservation Commission on Monday night accepted a notice of intent for the construction of the bridge, which will be in the "inner raparian zone" of the river and bordering the floodplain, vegetated wetland and in the buffer zone. It also found that the Wetlands Protection Act was not applicable to test excavations around the former wastewater treatment plant property where the hiking trails are proposed.

The redevelopment of the old motor court by a partnership largely based in Boston has grown to

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Downing's Next Step Is Solar Energy Firm
04:43PM / Monday, November 14, 2016
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BOSTON — Benjamin B. Downing, who has championed renewable energies during his 10 years in the state Senate, will join a solar energy company at the end of his term.

Nexamp Inc. announced on Monday that the Pittsfield Democrat, who did not stand for a sixth term, would be the solar contractor's new vice president of new market development.

"Ben's long history of public service will complement Nexamp's expert team of local development professionals," said Zaid Ashai, chief executive officer of Nexamp, in a statement. "He joins us at the most exciting juncture in our company's young history, and his ability to effectively communicate promising

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