Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Richard Neal joined city and public safety officials in Pittsfield today to announce a federal grant that will help the city upgrade its fire safety equipment.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Members of the Pittsfield community gathered to celebrate Arbor Day at Pitt Park. The park was founded 100 years ago, one of the city’s first parks.

The public gathered in the park under the branches of an Eastern Cottonwood tree that Jim McGrath, Parks and Open Spaces Director for the City of Pittsfield, said was here before the city was founded. It is at least 300 years old.

"We're pleased that we can celebrate this grand champion on Arbor Day," said McGrath.

In the wake of a report released earlier this year by the Massachusetts Inspector General suggesting that $25 million may be wasted in the welfare system annually, and following the resignation of former Commissioner of the Department of Transitional Assistance Daniel Curley, recently-appointed Interim Commissioner Stacey Monahan is touring the Bay State holding a series of listening sessions to hear feedback and suggestions from the public on how to improve the DTA system.

The meeting will be held this evening beginning at 6 pm at the Pittsfield Public Library.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Members of Pittsfield’s Irish sister city committee welcomed guests from Ballina, Ireland on Friday afternoon at Pittsfield City Hall.

Rob Dwyer, president of the Irish Sister City Committee said that since Pittsfield chose Ballina as its sister city in 1998, due to similarities in its “small-town” feel and economy, the two communities have grown close.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

The recently appointed Massachusetts Secretary of Education visited with school superintendents and local officials in the Berkshires today to hear suggestions for improving the state education system.

The city council in Pittsfield may consider a proposal that would ban restaurants from selling food in plastic foam containers in the Berkshire City.

Pittsfield resident and attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo III first proposed the idea to members of city government in a column published in the Berkshire Eagle earlier this month.

City of Pittsfield

In recognition of African American History Month, students at one high school in the Berkshires participated in a day of presentations from local African American role models, who shared their own stories with students and reflected on their heritage.

Multicultural BRIDGE – a non-profit organization with a mission to promote diversity understanding and acceptance in area communities, held their first Living African-American History Month Project, through a partnership with Pittsfield High School.

The City of Pittsfield is in the process of forming a committee to explore a Payments in Lieu of Taxes – or PILOT – program – aimed at local non-profits, in order to possibly generate additional revenues for city services.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Newly-elected Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren continued  her  first tour of Western Massachusetts after being sworn-in by hearing from constituents in the Berkshires. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports...

At Pittsfield City Hall, Warren met with lawmakers, and local  officials, where they discussed a variety of topics including the county’s infrastructure, public safety, education, and economic development.

Tomorrow night at 8pm, David Wax Museum is playing at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA. Their indie rock is a unique blend of Americana folk and Mexican son music. The New Yorker said of their sound that it “Kicks up a cloud of excitement with its high-energy border-crossing sensibility.”

The largest city in the Berkshires has received state funding to continue its restoration of a downtown greenspace. The grant is part of a multi-million effort to improve parks in cities across the Massachusetts. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

The First Street Common located in downtown Pittsfield has historically been a hub for the people of the city, but in recent years had become neglected and ill-maintained. Jim McGrath is Pittsfield’s park, open space and natural resources program manager…

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray made three stops in Pittsfield today, including one at a Veterans home where he heard suggestions and concerns from vets. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

After making stops at Pittsfield High School and General Dynamics, a defense manufacturer, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray toured facilities at Solider On – a non-profit organization that provides housing and services for homeless veterans.

Three former Burger King restaurants in the Pittsfield area that were abruptly shut down earlier this year  have been sold to new owners. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard has more…

The Berkshire Eagle reports that the three Burger King restaurants previously owned by Richard C. George were sold at foreclosure auctions by TD Bank to two separate owners for a combined 2.8 million dollars. They include restaurants on Merrill Road and First Street in Pittsfield, and on Pittsfield Road in Lenox.

As the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is developing its plan to replace a bridge over a vital freight rail corridor in Pittsfield, members of the public are being asked for their opinions.  WAMC’s Berkshire bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Today in Pittsfield the Governor of Massachusetts joined local and state officials to announce the opening of a brand new affordable housing building set to help revitalize a working class neighborhood. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Governor Deval Patrick stood in the community room of the newly opened Rice Silk Mill, a 45-unit affordable housing building in Pittsfield’s Morningside neighborhood to pay tribute to the team work it took to make the project a reality.

The third search this year for a new superintendent of a 6,000-student Berkshire school district is set to begin at the end of this month. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

At the end of this month, the Pittsfield School Committee will again begin its search for a new school superintendent. Currently, Dr. Gordon Noseworthy is serving as temporary superintendent, after being selected by the school board last June, though only for the current school year. Former superintendent Howard “Jake” Eberwein left his position last June.

A special committee has been selected to review Pittsfield’s city charter, and the process of updating the document will begin later this week. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Pittsfield’s city charter has remained nearly unchanged since 1932, and now, 80 years later,  city officials say that the antiquated governing document requires some modern updates. Pittsfield mayor Dan Bianchi proposed an update in April of this year, 3 months after he took office.

The City of Pittsfield announced that the lawsuit was reported settled in Federal Court earlier this week. As part of the agreement, Worcester-based Spectrum Health Systems, Inc. will open a methadone treatment center, used for treating heroin and other opioid addiction, in downtown Pittsfield.

Spectrum sued the City last year after previous Mayor James Ruberto refused to grant the organization a building permit for their original proposed downtown location. Spectrum claimed that the City’s refusal was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Massachusetts Lt. Governor Timothy Murray toured Western Massachusetts yesterday, stopping in Springfield and Pittsfield to highlight the creative economy. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

As part of an ongoing process to find a place for an opioid addiction treatment center in Pittsfield, an informational public meeting will be held early next week. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard tells what city residents should expect.

After a second failed attempt by Worcester-based Spectrum Health Services to find a suitable location for methadone clinic in Pittsfield without public input, the City of Pittsfield announced this week that an informational meeting for town residents will be held next week.

Over the past 5 years, Pittsfield has had several economic investments in the arts. As WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, a new study details the financial impact on the city…

 The study was conducted by American’s for the Arts – a national non-profit that advocates for advancing arts and cultural programs.  The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV economic study looked at 182 different communities across the country over a five-year period, Pittsfield was the only in Massachusetts to participate.

MA Officials Fighting Zebra Mussel Invasion

May 23, 2012

State environmental officials are kicking off a plan to fight the spread of the invasive zebra mussel in Massachusetts.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

Later today, Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Edward Lambert and Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin will outline plans at a press conference at Pontoosuc Lake in Pittsfield,

Zebra mussels can multiply quickly, disrupting local ecosystems by covering other freshwater mussels and cutting off resources for other species.

A bill sponsored by Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Senator Benjamin Downing, both of Pittsfield, would expand the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority by adding three additional board members. The board, also known as PEDA, was created in the late 90s to redevelopment the William Stanley Business Park, the former 52-acre home to General Electric, and largest employer of city residents for decades.

 Senator Downing says that the action was needed to allow the board to reach out and attract companies to the park.

“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…

David Frazier is walking through the Robbins Garden, part  of the Westside Community Garden Initiative in Pittsfield. The garden which hasn’t been planted for the season yet, is sprouting a few perennials like onions and carrots.

Frazier is chairman of the Westside Garden Community subcommittee. This garden, which was opened in 2007 on a city-owned lot, provides underserved Pittsfield residents with fresh produce in the summer months.