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Gabrielle K. Murphy
A portion of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council's new fully accessible trail at its Parsons Marsh property in Lenox. An opening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at the trail Saturday, Sept. 15, beginning at 9 a.m.

Business Briefs: New BNRC trail; New Marlborough Land Trust gift; Pittsfield Cultural Council grant workshop; Greylock donates to Lee High School; Berkshire Business Confidence Index results

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By Tuesday, Sep 11, 2018 Life In the Berkshires

Berkshire Natural Resources Council completes new accessible trail

Lenox — Berkshire Natural Resources Council has announced the opening of a new accessible trail and boardwalk at Parsons Marsh. The quarter-mile trail winds past a pond, through open meadows and forested wetlands. A grand opening celebration is scheduled to take place Saturday, Sept. 15, with a bird walk with the Hoffmann Bird Club at 9 a.m.; music by the Russet Trio at 10 a.m.; a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m.; and cider-pressing, crafts, more music and a trail walk at 10:45 a.m.

Features include a fully accessible trail and boardwalk, a picnic area, interpretive signage detailing the natural and human history of the site, and a viewing platform into the marsh. The trail was constructed with surfaces designed to be navigable by wheelchairs and people with limited mobility. It is also built with environmentally sensitive construction techniques, minimizing pollutant drainage and other impacts on vulnerable habitat. The surface meets federal trail accessibility standards.

The project was designed with extensive public input and meets the town of Lenox’s goal of improving access to the outdoors for all. When complete it will be 1,800 feet long and include an 800-foot boardwalk with three bridges. Peter S. Jensen and Associates, working with BNRC staff, is constructing the trail, which traverses open meadow, a man-made pond, and upland forest and wetlands, and provides open views of the marsh.

The project features a new eco-friendly material in several locations: the picnic table platform and a kiosk base will be constructed with Ekomats, which are made of recycled, single-use plastics. Ekomats divert plastics from the waste stream and are designed to mitigate soil erosion and other disruptions to the landscape. The substrate under the matting is made of recycled and crushed glass aggregate.

–E.E.

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Some 300 acres flanking the southern entrance to the village of Mill River were given to the New Marlborough Land Trust by longtime resident Ned Goodnow. Image courtesy New Marlborough Land Trust

New Marlborough Land Trust receives 300-acre gift

New Marlborough — The New Marlborough Land Trust has announced that Edward “Ned” Goodnow has given it 300 acres of land along the Konkapot River. Located just south of the New Marlborough village of Mill River, the property contains more than 4,000 feet of river frontage, the ruins of a paper mill, woodland trails and open pasture.

“The land represents an amazing convergence of past, present and future,” noted NMLT executive director Martha Bryan. “The Carroll paper mill is part of Mill River’s manufacturing legacy. The interior woodland areas offer year-round recreational opportunities for hikers and cross-country skiers. The beautiful pastures continue to be hayed, and will support local agriculture long into the future.”

The gift of the Konkapot acreage marks NMLT’s largest-ever single acquisition. Counting the new acreage, the trust now owns and maintains approximately 890 acres in the town, all with public access.

–E.E.

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Pittsfield Cultural Council to hold grant application workshop, reception

Pittsfield —The Pittsfield Cultural Council will hold a grant application workshop to assist anyone interested in applying for funds for 2018 arts- or culture-related projects Wednesday, Sept. 12, from 6 to 6:30 p.m. at Hotel on North.

An opportunity to meet with PCC members and learn more about applying for funding, the workshop will be followed by a reception from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in honor of PCC’s 2018 grant award recipients. There will be hors d’oeuvres; a cash bar; and the chance to network with fellow grant recipients, council members and other community members.

With funding from the Mass Cultural Council, PCC provides grants to help underwrite projects, programs, and events in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences. This year, PCC funded 39 grants totaling more than $26,497. The council is now seeking applications for the 2019 grant cycle. Information and applications are available online and are due Monday, Oct. 15.

Both the workshop and the reception are free and open to all. For more information, contact pittsfieldculture@yahoo.com.

–E.E.

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Lee Wildcats debit card generates $2,130 for school

Pittsfield — In July 2016, Greylock Federal Credit Union introduced a new debit card featuring the Lee High School Wildcats logo and school colors. Since then, every time a Greylock member has signed up for a Wildcats debit card, the credit union has made a donation to Lee High School. Greylock has announced that the cards have generated $2,130 for the school since being issued. According to Lee Middle and High School Principal Gregg M. Brighenti, the funds have been used to purchase furniture for the library, fund students who couldn’t afford school trips, pay for two dinners the students served to senior citizens, and buy a small cookie oven for the Lee High School booster clubs to use at games as a fundraiser for their programs.

Said Lee branch manager Jennifer O’Neil: “We are pleased that the school has benefited from our donations and is doing such good work with the money. It is fitting that this news comes on the occasion of the Lee branch’s 20th anniversary as we commemorate 20 years of service to the Lee community.”

–E.E.

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Berkshire Money Management releases results of latest Berkshire Business Confidence Index

Dalton — Berkshire Money Management recently released the results of the quarterly Berkshire Business Confidence Index. This quarter, Berkshire-based business owners felt the strength of the national economic growth rate and, in response, are stocking more inventory in anticipation of continued expansion.

From the April 2018 to this one, overall confidence was up slightly, from 56.1 to 58.6. The most notable improvements came from respondents’ views of overall business conditions from the last survey as well as year-over-year sales. Notable improvements in the view of overall conditions have prompted businesses to build inventory.

The BCI results also reveal that 39.3 percent of respondents are relying on “customer loyalty” as a method to book revenue for the future, which, according to BMM founder and CEO Allen Harris, is a mistake.

“Relying on customers to come back based on customer service is, to be blunt, a mistake,” wrote Harris in the BCI. “Good customer service isn’t a branding strategy, or a differentiator. You cannot differentiate your business from others based on good customer service. Why? Because good service doesn’t impress people when excellent customer service is the new minimum. Excellent service is so prevalent now, that you hardly even notice it.”

Additional results from the BCI include the intention to hire, which fell 3.2 points to 58.9. That is still above 50, which indicates growth. The number of respondents with modest-to-substantial hiring plans dropped from 32 percent to 27 percent. And once again, increased costs continue to be a powerfully negative component among local decision makers.

–E.E.

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