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News and events in South Berkshire, Mass.

The Independent Investor: Election Investors Ignored
By Bill Schmick,
07:09PM / Thursday, December 18, 2014
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Last weekend Japan held "snap" elections, which gave Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the mandate to continue his pro-growth economic policies.  No one outside Japan seemed to care. The Nikkei stock market index fell 1.6 percent and traders moved on. That may prove to be a big mistake.

Granted, given the precipitous decline in the price of oil and the calamity it is causing in Russia (well-covered in last week's columns), investors may be forgiven for focusing on other more immediate concerns. Still, I believe that now that Abe has a clear mandate to continue his pro-reform, economic policies, Japan's prospects for next year have been elevated considerably. And don't

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'Exodus: Gods and Kings': And Frogs, Too
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
06:51PM / Thursday, December 18, 2014
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Popcorn Column
by Michael S. Goldberger  
  The story of Exodus is by The Book, but played out with proper spectacle. All it needs is for Christian Bale to growl, 'I'm Moses.'

Filmgoers expecting some world-changing revelation from Ridley Scott's retelling of how Moses led the Israelites out of bondage will probably be disappointed by "Exodus: Gods and Kings."

Save for the usual dabs of poetic license that no iconic saga can escape when given the epic movie treatment, it is apparent that the director's chief impetuses are tradition and responsibility. As such, combined with the best special effects

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Itís Time for This Family Discussion
By Wells Fargo Advisors, Submitted Content
03:00PM / Wednesday, December 17, 2014
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If the prospect of asking your aging parents about the way they handle their household finances — or how they would feel about moving to a nursing home — fills you with apprehension, you are not alone. However, it’s the kind of conversation you can’t afford to delay indefinitely. As your parents get older, it’s critical to sit down with them and talk about their health and financial well-being — before urgent decisions are forced on you.

“The consequence of not having these discussions is that you aren’t prepared to make sound medical and financial choices when Mom or Dad has an emergency,” says Deborah Eickhoff, Vice President of

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BRNC Wins Open Country Award From Outdoor Life
05:22PM / Tuesday, December 16, 2014
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A photo posted by @berkshirenaturalresources on

Jan 1, 2014 at 8:05pm PST

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Outdoor Life magazine has named Berkshire Natural Resources Council as one of its four 2014 Open Country Award winners in honor of the conservation group's work to conserve land and keep it open to the public for recreation.

In addition to BNRC, three other winners were announced: Powderhook, a Nebraska company that matches sportsmen with open land via an online application; Idaho Fish and Game, for its "Access Yes!" program; and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, for her legislative advocacy on behalf of

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Tree Lightings & Holiday Events 2014
01:11PM / Tuesday, December 16, 2014
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North Adams' tree lighting is Nov. 26.

Holiday Events

The list for Christmas Masses in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield can be found on the diocese website or at iobserver.org. The Christmas Eve liturgy from St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield will be rebroadcast Christmas morning at 11 a.m. on "Chalice of Salvation" on WWLP TV-22.

CHESHIRE

• Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m.; Hoosac Valley Middle and High School Performing Arts Department presents a holiday concert in the school auditorium featuring the jazz ensemble, chorus and middle school and high school bands. Ensembles are under the direction of Jacob Keplinger and Tim Rougeau. Admission is

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BHS's Community Pet Food Bank Almost Empty
12:06PM / Monday, December 15, 2014
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Berkshire Humane Society is in dire need of bags and cans of both cat and dog food for its Community Pet Food Bank, which provides Berkshire County residents who are having financial struggles with food for their furry family members.

Any size donation, big or small, would be appreciated.

 The Community Pet Food Bank is a long-standing outreach program at BHS; its goal is to keep pets where they belong – in their loving homes.  Between 2010 and 2014, the food bank has received more than 4,000 requests for assistance; this year alone, there have been 952 requests.  

To drop off donations, stop by BHS at 214 Barker Road in Pittsfield or Purradise at 310 Stockbridge

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Norman Rockwell Museum Welcomes New Board of Trustees Officers and Members
11:18AM / Monday, December 15, 2014
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STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Norman Rockwell Museum welcomed new officers and members to its Board of Trustees during the museum’s annual meetings held on Sept. 19 and Dec. 5.

During the September meeting, Robert T. Horvath was elected to the office of Chairman of the Board of Trustees, assuming the office previously held by Anne H. Morgan; Alice A. Carter was elected to the office of Museum President; and Jamie Williamson was elected First Vice President. During the December meeting, new trustee members Magdalen Livesey and Carol Konner were elected to three-year terms on the Museum’s Board of Trustees. Off-going Trustees include Peter D’Ambrosio and Peter de

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Berkshire Chamber Outlines 'New way' at Annual Meeting
By Paul Hopkins, iBerkshires Correspondent
03:49AM / Sunday, December 14, 2014
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Esther Quinn Award winner John Bissell is shown with his wife, Melissa, son, George, and daughter, Whidbey.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Leaders of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce called for a renewed focus on economic development at the chamber's 103rd annual meeting Friday evening at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

President and CEO Jonathan Butler said the chamber will set the tone for a "new way" for a unified future, including greater promotion and awareness of the 1Berkshire collaboration (the chamber, Berkshire Creative and the Berkshire Visitors Bureau), assisting businesses with recruitment and retention, addressing population loss, and creating an entrepreneurial

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MassDOT: $60M to Maintain & Fix Western Mass Bridges
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:02PM / Saturday, December 13, 2014
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The MPO was updated on the projects Tuesday afternoon. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state is currently spending more than $60 million in maintaining the 271 bridges in Western Massachusetts.   Peter Frieri, of the Department of Transportation's District 1, said nearly $10 million is being spent on emergency repairs and $51 million on rehabilitation projects.    "Currently, there is $10 million that has been spent or will be spent on bridges," Frieri told the Berkshire Metropolitan Planning Organization on Wednesday.   Deck repairs are the most expensive and are being done under a $2.8 million contract with MIG Corp. at various locations throughout

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@theMarket: It's All About Oil
By Bill Schmick,
04:10PM / Friday, December 12, 2014
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Just three weeks to go before the end of the year, and stock markets should be celebrating. Instead, equity markets have been down as traders become increasingly spooked by the decline in oil prices. Granted, financial markets sometimes get it wrong, but the present atmosphere of fear is one for the books.

Investors are afraid that oil prices could go even lower. The question to ask is how low is too low? Someone somewhere came up with the price of $60 a barrel as a "fair" price for oil. This week it broke that price level and markets in Europe and the U.S. sold off. What are investors thinking?

For starters, some believe the decline in oil prices is indicative of slowing world

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