pittsfield

Jim Levulis / WAMC

U.S. Senator Edward Markey visited Pittsfield today on a tour of western Massachusetts.

file photo / WAMC

Residents in Pittsfield could soon be paying higher water and sewer rates. The city council will vote Tuesday whether to approve Mayor Dan Bianchi’s proposal to raise water and sewer rates for the third straight year. Residents would see an annual fee increase of nearly 7-and-a-half dollars if the 2.5-percent hike is approved at the city council meeting. City Councilor and Chair of the Public Works Subcommittee Chris Connell says the increase is in line with ones over the past two years so residents don’t feel a big financial crunch during one year.

At a recent legislative hearing, Pittsfield’s plan for a new city charter was given a favorable recommendation by a group of Massachusetts lawmakers.

Among those who testified to the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government Tuesday in support of a bill that would allow Pittsfield to pursue a new city charter were State Senator Benjamin Downing, State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, State Representative Paul Mark, and Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi.

The City of Pittsfield has been mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to complete upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant, a project that is estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars.

Upon a revision of Pittsfield’s wastewater discharge permit for a plant located on Holmes Road, an EPA mandate from 2008 would require the city to restrict the amount of aluminum and phosphorus released in its treated discharge into the Housatonic River.

marijuana
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Under the ballot measure approved by Massachusetts voters legalizing medical marijuana last year, up to 35 licenses for dispensaries could be opened across the state. The state Department of Public Health revealed its final regulations for the distribution of the drug in May, and Pittsfield has been one of many localities working to change zoning regulations to accommodate the arrival of the dispensaries.

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The selectboard of Williamstown recently voted to allow the town to pursue a Cultural District Designation from the state of Massachusetts designed to promote economic development through the arts.

On Wednesday evening, the Williamstown selectboard gave the go-ahead for town residents to seek out a Cultural District Designation from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The designation is not a monetary award but includes signage and serves as a badge of honor in recognition of community efforts to promote the arts and humanities.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Dan Bianchi announced Friday that he has taken out nomination papers to run for a second term as mayor of Pittsfield.

In a statement Bianchi said that in his next term he intends to continue building his economic development program for the city. He also said that he plans to continue his work on improving the city’s schools, including strengthening career vocational programs at Taconic High School.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Dan Bianchi announced Friday that he has taken out nomination papers to run for a second term as mayor of Pittsfield.

In a statement Bianchi said that in his next term he intends to continue building his economic development program for the city. He also said that he plans to continue his work on improving the city’s schools, including strengthening career vocational programs at Taconic High School.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Monday’s ceremony marked the installation of the Born Learning Trail, a series of signs along a pathway through a playground at Springside Park in Pittsfield, aimed young children and their families to encourage outdoor activity and reading.

The Born Learning Trail comes from efforts by Pittsfield Promise, a city-wide coalition that is working through a variety of projects with a goal of boosting  reading proficiency levels among Pittsfield third-graders to 90 percent by 2020.

Picture of marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

On Wednesday, public health officials in Massachusetts approved a set of final regulations for the use of medical marijuana, and before the first dispensaries are expected to open, some communities are taking action to accommodate them.

The state’s Public Health Council approved the draft regulations on medical marijuana drawn up by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Under the law approved by voters last November, up to 35 dispensaries will open in communities across the state, but not for the next several months.

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.

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