Lucas Willard

Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief/Weekend Host

Lucas Willard graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. He also attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in 2010, where he studied audio and multimedia storytelling.  Prior to joining WAMC in 2011, Lucas worked with the Sound and Story Project of the Hudson Valley, the Big Shed Audio Documentary Podcast, the Albany Broadcasting Company, WDVL & WCVF-FM Fredonia, and WSUC-FM Cortland.  

Ways to Connect

May 1st is recognized as International Workers Day. In Pittsfield, an Occupy Berkshires rally was held to commemorate the day and raise awareness of political issues. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard attended the rally and spoke with activists and occupiers.

 

The new regulations now up for a public comment for the next 30 days come after two years of study commissioned by the state Department of Energy and Resources. DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia…

Biomass energy production comes from the generation of power by burning organic materials, most notably wood. Opponents of the practice say that unregulated biomass energy production can lead to overharvesting of timber, increased air pollution, and the excess release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

The Merrimack River Valley Flood Control Compact is at the center of an argument between the two New England states.  The 1953 agreement was approved by Congress after Massachusetts requested help from New Hampshire in managing the Merrimack River flood plain.

18 New Hampshire Towns gave up a portion of their communities to build a flood control system, and in exchange, the State of New Hampshire agreed to reimburse the towns for the lost property tax values. According to the agreement, 70 percent of that funding going to the towns would come from payments made by Massachusetts.

At the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, members of the community gathered to have an open dialogue with area economic development strategists to talk about the future of the Berkshire economy and current obstables that stand in its way.

Executive Director of the Norman Rockwell Mseum, Laurie Norton Moffatt explains that this meeting was the last of the “Four Freedoms” community discussion forums.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection earlier this month launched the “RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts” program. RecyclingWorks provides businesses and institutions with information and assistance with disposing waste properly and encourages recycling.

Greg Cooper from the Mass DEP says that the program is designed to help business reach sustainability goals, but also help their bottom line.

The current framework for Pittsfield’s city government dates back to the 1930’s. 1st term Mayor Dan Bianchi is asking the city council to approve measures to appoint an independent, non-partisan review commission to update and modernize the charter.

Bianchi said that he would like the commission to take a look at the structure of city government.

The mayor stressed that he wants to panel to include active members of the community and wants to take input from the public and the president of the city council before any selections are made.

The Connecticut House of Representatives voted to increase the state’s minimum wage. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

The House lowered the original proposed hike to a 50-cent increase and removed a provision to eventually tie the wage to inflation.

State representatives passed the measure 88-to-62 on Thursday.

Connecticut's governor has signed a new law that abolishes the state's death penalty for future crimes. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports…

A spokeswoman says Democratic Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed the bill Wednesday afternoon at a private ceremony with lawmakers, clergy and family members of victims.

Malloy issued a statement calling it "an historic moment" as Connecticut joins 16 other states that have abolished capital punishment. He said it was a moment "for sober reflection, not celebration."

Since 2007 when Massachusetts enacted the Data Security Breach Law, near half the population of the state could have had their personal information put at risk. The recently released numbers show that from November of 2007 to September of 2011, over 1.2 million state residents have had their data compromised by lost or misplaced mobile devices or laptops, and over 200,000 from stolen devices.

The study was called for by Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. The goal was to find the effects of special education programs in Massachusetts, and examine why the state has such a high rate of students being included in special ed programs – 17%. The results of the study, which were presented at a special meeting of the state board of Elementary and Secondary Education showed that average number of 17% can be highly variable among school districts. Commissioner Chester…

Amazon.com is opening a research facility in Cambridge and is acquiring a robotics facility in North Reading, and some are now wondering if the company is subject to the Massachusetts sales tax.

A 1992 Supreme Court decision said that states cannot make out-of-state businesses collect sales tax. In other words, a retailer must have a physical presence in the state to pay sales taxes. Spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Bob Bliss…

“Step Up Prevention” was the name of the event, where children and families, state and city officials, and advocates came together to acknowledge issues of child abuse and neglect. The event, hosted by the Children’s Trust Fund, lined children’s shoes on the steps of Pittsfield City Hall. Children’s Trust Fund CEO Alicia Lenahan remarked that Pittsfield is the final stop in the yearly event…

The chief executive of Foxwoods Resort Casino says rising competition is forcing the Indian-run casino in eastern Connecticut to consider online gambling and other changes. WAMC’s Lucas Willard has more…

Scott Butera, CEO of Foxwoods, in a web-based discussion Thursday with The Day of New London, said supply in the casino business is clearly outpacing demand. Gambling has been legalized in Massachusetts and casinos in New York are taking a greater share of the market.

He said he expects additional venues and online gambling to be a part of Foxwoods' future.

Berkshire County Kid’s Place received $23,000 in federal funding to find ways to better serve children and families in their local area. Under the National Children’s Alliance in agreement with the US Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, almost $10 million was distributed to 91 abuse prevention organizations across the country.

Photo by Scott Bauer (USDA ARS)

Ticks hang out in grassy, or forested humid areas waiting for their next ride and blood meal. And the tiny arachnids starting hitching rides on people and pets in full force early this year.

Dr. John Reynolds is a Pittsfield veterinarian who says that recent warm weather led to an increase in the amount of animals brought in to have ticks removed from their fur.

 Hank Art is a professor of Biology at Williams College. He says that cold winters usually reduce the numbers in ticks, but for the past two years, nature has worked in the tick’s favor.

The alliance of six health care organizations has released their Roadmap to Reform, which would improve upon the state’s current protections for patients and doctors by increasing transparency and communication in managing malpractice situations.

Housatonic River Walk

Director of the Greenagers program Will Conklin puts it this way…

A program of the Berkshires-based Center for Peace Through Culture, Greenagers is a youth program based in environmental stewardship and service to community.

On Saturday, April 21st, Greenagers will begin its season by providing volunteer hours to clean up and pull weeds on the Housatonic River Walk in Great Barrington. Director Will Conklin…

"Farewell to Factory Towns?"
Written and directed by Maynard Seider

Tuesday, April 17th @ 7pm

Murdock Hall, Room 218

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

375 Church Street, North Adams, MA

A panel discussion will be held afterwards. The event is free and open to the public. Guests are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the fight against hunger.

The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition held a monthly forum in North Adams gathering area residents, community activists, and members of local government. NBCC executive director Al Bashevkin explains that the purpose of the meeting was to make the public aware of the challenges facing area food assistance programs…

The meeting let representatives from local food pantries introduce themselves to the public, discuss challenges they are facing with an increased demand with a decrease in state and federal funding, and brainstorm new ideas to address those challenges.

The breakfast held at the Waconah Country Club in Dalton, and hosted by the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, brought together business owners, community leaders, and students from Waconah high school to meet and ask questions with legislators and Speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo. Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mike Supranowicz remarked on the presence of the Speaker at the “Eggs and Issues” event…

The federal stimulus funding was awarded to the Massachusetts Broadband Institute. The MBI is a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which was awarded the money through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s State Broadband Initiative Program.

The $600,000 will be distributed to four separate Community Development Corporations across the Commonwealth.

 The decision given Wednesday from the state’s Public Health Council, an independent panel of health professionals including doctors and advocates assembled under the Department of Public Health, has upset Ambulatory Surgery Centers in Massachusetts. Ambulatory Surgery Centers, or ASC’s, are privately-owned, tax-paying health care facilities that often provide cheaper care and services than what hospitals can offer.

Getty Images

The Joint Committee on Public Health heard from advocates and opponents for the legalizing marijuana for medical use. S 1161 and H 625, the two bills before the Committee have been sent to further study.

H 3885, the medical marijuana ballot initiative, if passed by the legislature, would go to voters in November.

The Committee for Compassionate Medicine testified in favor of legalizing pot for individuals suffering from debilitating disease.

Berkshire Environmental Action Team

Hosted by the Housatonic River Initiative, a non-profit dedicated towards clearing the Housatonic of PCB's for the past 20 years, panelists made the case for thorough cleanup along the rest of the river. General Electric and the EPA have already dredged the first two miles of the Housatonic from the GE site through Pittsfield. An EPA plan for the so-called "Rest of River," six miles of cleanup from Pittsfield to Woods Pond in Lenox, is still being developed.

If approved by the DCR Stewardship Council, the Massachusetts’ new forest management plan would end the three year “Forest Futures Visioning Process”. After public environmental concerns, particularly from the logging of Savoy Mountain State Forest, Massachusetts placed a moratorium on harvesting timber from state-owned land.

Father Daniel Boyle, pastor of St. Stan’s, says that after the final mass before closure was held on the Sunday after Christmas in 2008, members of the church took action.

 Vigilers took turns occupying the church, some for just a few hours a week, some for overnight stays. The vigil spanned 1,150 days.

 The appeal reached the Catholic Church’s highest judicial authority, the Apostolic Signatura for decision. The Signatura reviewed the Bishop of Springfield’s actions of closing St. Stan’s. Father Boyle explains…

According to Massachusetts’ Affordable Housing Law, every community in the Commonwealth has an obligation to develop ways to provide 10% of their housing stock available to moderate and low income families. Many areas of Berkshire County are well below that goal.

Great Barrington was the hometown of the late author and civil rights leader and founder of the NAACP. He died nearly 50 years ago.

A parcel of land and home located along route 23 in Great Barrington that was given to WEB Dubois as a gift was bulldozed in the mid-50’s. In the 1960’s, the acreage where the homestead sat changed hands. Currently, UMass Amherst owns the homesite.

The Friends of the Du Bois Home site are planning to include the 5-acre plot Great Barrington and three other locations a national historic site.

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