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Coronavirus Live Local Updates

By Wednesday, Apr 8, 2020 News 2

Editor’s note: Most school districts in Berkshire County closed beginning Monday, March 16, and will not reopen until May 4 at the earliest, per order of Gov. Charlie Baker. In addition to Berkshire Hills and Southern Berkshire (see below), South County school districts that have closed include Lenox, Lee and the Farmington River Regional School District. This page will be updated regularly, including on nights and weekends, to keep Edge readers apprised of the latest information locally.

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Triplex Cinema closed temporarily

Great Barrington (April 8) — The following statement was sent by the management of the Triplex Cinema:

We wanted to take a minute to check in with you all regarding our current status.

As you may be aware we are temporarily closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Our April 13, 2020, showing of Renoir: Revered and Reviled will be postponed, but we hope to reschedule as soon as we are able to, for any assistance with refunds or exchanges please either email us or stop by the theater once we re-open.

Here at the Triplex Cinema we have always strived to be a community theater. Our purpose over the years has been to bring together our community and provide a place where people can gather, relax, and escape from the hassles of daily life, if only for an hour or two at a time.

In an attempt to continue to provide this means of relaxation and escape in these stressful times we have partnered with a number of studios to bring to you films streamed to your home. These features have previously only been offered in theaters before. Stay tuned at thetriplex.com for updated film offerings and to see how it works.

Stay safe and be well!

– Triplex Management & Staff

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Williamstown Theatre Festival cancels 2020 season

Williamstown (April 7, 2020) — After exhaustive deliberations and at the advice and counsel of our organization’s chief advisors, Williamstown Theatre Festival will not be able to move forward with the 2020 summer season in Williamstown as planned.

In compliance with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s orders issued on March 23, combined with the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and anticipated measures at the federal, state, and local level, we are unable to proceed with the theatre season in Williamstown at this time. This is a very difficult situation for everyone at the Festival. In the event the governor’s or other civil authority’s positions or requirements are amended or updated, we will let you know if these changes affect our ability to mount the season in Williamstown, as planned.

2020 season ticket bundle holders will be contacted via email detailing how bundle purchases may be converted into a donation, credit voucher, or refund.

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Special Shopping Hours for Seniors

Great Barrington (April 7, 2020) — The town health department has put together this list of special shopping hours at grocery stores and pharmacies for seniors in Great Barrington.

Berkshire Co-Op Market
10 a.m. to 11 a.m., 7 days a week
Big Y World Class Market
7 a.m. to 8 a.m., 7 days a week
Big Y Pharmacy
7 a.m. to 8 a.m., Monday thru Friday
9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday
Bizalion’s Cafe and Market
10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Sunday thru Thursday
9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Friday and Saturday
CVS Pharmacy
8 a.m. to 9 a.m.M, Monday thru Friday
9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday
Gorham & Norton
8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Monday thru Saturday
Closed Sunday
Price Chopper Market 32
7 a.m. to 8 a.m., 7 days a week
Price Chopper Market 32 Pharmacy
7 a.m. to 8 a.m., 7 days a week
Shiro Asian Market
11 a.m. to noon, Monday thru Saturday
Closed Sunday
Walgreen’s (formerly Rite Aid)
8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Monday thru Friday
9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday

If you are a retailer with special hours for seniors and would like to be listed in this resource please email apulver@townofgb.org or The Edge at news@theberkshireedge.com.

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Update on town actions in response to COVID-19

Sheffield (April 6, 2020) — The Board of Selectmen, police and fire departments, as well as our Board of Health and town departments continue to serve you while we go through this unprecedented and disruptive time.

We are working closely with the governor’s office as well as various state and federal agencies to provide the best response, protections and outcomes for our residents and visitors.

Here’s an update from your town management team:

  • All town buildings are closed to the public until April 24, with the exception of the senior center and library, which are closed to the public until April 30. Buildings continue to have essential services staffing from 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. (the library works different hours). They are there to take your calls and provide information while processing town business. The transfer station continues to be open regular hours; please practice social distancing.
  • We continue to stress the need for individual safety, hand washing and social distancing during this time. It is now recommended you wear a mask, bandana or scarf over your mouth and nose when you go out. This not only protects you, but others, as it appears a number of people may carry the virus without being sick.
  • If you have returned or come to Sheffield, you are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • The annual town meeting has been postponed, but not rescheduled. We will notify you in plenty of time to actively participate.
  • Town elections will be held on Monday, May 11, as normal. We will have news shortly on absentee/mail in balloting for those who may not wish to go to the polls.
  • Committee and board meetings, including those of the Board of Selectmen, are being held virtually, via phone conferencing. These meeting are open to the public, again via phone conferencing. Phone in numbers and access codes are published with each meeting’s agenda.

We will continue to keep you informed and thank you for your patience, understanding and taking care of yourselves. Up-to-date information is posted on the town’s website: www.sheffieldma.gov.

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New Marlborough announces new high-speed wi-fi hotspots

New Marlborough (April 5, 2020) — Today, the town of New Marlborough, which currently lacks both residential and business broadband access, successfully installed and activated enhanced hi-speed internet hotspots at the town’s three middle-mile access points: The library, town hall and the fire station.

By combining upgraded bandwidth speeds with omni-directional exterior antennas, residents can now log onto a high-speed connection from a wider range around these locations than previously. This will allow more residents to use the connections at the same time and at much higher speeds than was previously possible, supporting all important internet applications including web browsing, streaming, video conferencing, voice calls, file upload/download, distance learning, VPN and much more.

We have many people to thank for this important upgrade. First, Marc Trachtenberg a town resident and entrepreneur who proposed and outlined the project and managed its implementation. Next, the Cable Advisory Commission, who coordinated with both the state and its contractors at the middle-mile as well as town government, especially Mari Enoch, town administrator and Chuck Loring, DPW supervisor. On behalf of all of us, we appreciate their efforts.

As we get started, there are a couple of guidelines:

  1. The network is named “NMNet”. No password is required.
    Service is available 24/7, designed for high performance for both upload and download and supports all necessary internet services.
  2. Social distancing practices must be observed at all times and will be enforced. Please work from your vehicles and do not approach others using the network. This is for everyone’s health and safety. The network is designed for broad coverage around each location.
  3. Please park only in designated areas, i.e. Library parking lot, town hall parking lot (front and back) and on the office side of the firehouse. DO NOT BLOCK the firehouse doors as emergency vehicles must have access to/from the building at all times. Please move your vehicle immediately if directed to do so by firehouse staff. If direct spots are full at any location, park in a safe spot.
  4. Do not block private driveways or parking areas.
  5. There are no public restrooms available for users.
  6. Any issues/comments please send request to nmnetsupport@newmarlboroughma.gov.

We encourage everyone to make use of this important service during these challenging times.

Click here to view the town’s COVID-19 webpage containing important updates.

Town of New Marlborough
PO Box 99
Mill River, MA 01244
(413) 229-8116 fax (413) 229-8253

Berkshire DA responds to SJC order on inmates during COVID-19 pandemic

The state Supreme Judicial Court ruled on Friday that because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some pretrial detainees who have not been charged with violent crimes can be released from incarceration.

Read more at MassLive.

Later that day, the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office released the following statement in response:

The Supreme Judicial Court issued an order Friday establishing guidance to criminal justice actors making determinations regarding incarceration in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Public and victim safety will always be my number one priority and we obtained vital protections by negotiating with the Special Master as part of this legal proceeding. The SJC has shown leadership in a time of crisis by taking this issue up and establishing statewide guidance. An outbreak of COVID-19 behind bars risks overwhelming our already taxed medical providers, puts incarcerated individuals at fatal risk, and endangers correctional officers and staff,” District Attorney Andrea Harrington said.

“The interplay between public health and public safety has never been more apparent. Our effort to lower the incarcerated population does not endanger the public because the SJC’s Order protects our community by assuring that those being held as dangerous or for committing violent crimes continue to be held.

In times of high stress, domestic violence and child abuse cases increase. We cannot afford to put residents at an increased safety risk or add to the responsibility of police departments who are working even harder now to protect vulnerable populations.”

The SJC acted in response to an emergency petition calling for the reduction in population inside prisons, jails, and houses of correction filed by the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts.

Harrington filed a response urging the SJC to include public safety measures to protect the community – specifically to protect individuals at risk of domestic violence or child abuse – while also supporting public health protections.

“Fulfilling our obligation to the communities that we serve demands weighing the challenges presented by COVID-19 with other existing and anticipated public safety challenges, including, in particular, domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse,” Harrington wrote in the office’s response.

The SJC Order adoptedHarrington’s request for individualized determinations by a trial court on defense motions for release. The order requires judges to consider the risk to family members, witnesses, and the community, and risks to public health. It also requires the district attorney’s offices to make every effort to connect with victims before such a release.

The order provides individuals being held pre-trial for certain non-violent crimes the presumption of release on personal recognizance and urges district attorney offices and defense counsel to come to agreed-upon conditions of release. A trial court judge will ultimately rule on defense motions for release.

The order establishes a full list of charges that exclude a defendant from presumptive release, including any allegations of domestic violence and violation of restraining orders.

The SJC order mirrors established pre-trial policies initiated by the Berkshire DA’s Office. The office limits requests for pretrial detention to individuals who are dangers to the community and has virtually eliminated the use of cash bail.

The SJC further urged the Massachusetts Parole Board, Department of Corrections, and county sheriffs to expeditiously release parole eligible individuals and ordered daily reporting of the overall inmate population, the number of COVID-19 tests and positive results for all inmates, correctional officers, and other staff members, the number of inmates released according to the order, and a census of pre-trial detainees with related charges to ensure safe reductions in the incarcerated population.

  • Click here to read the text of the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling.
  • Click here to read Berkshire DA Andrea Harrington’s formal response.

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Williams College cancels commencement

Williamstown – April 3, 2020

To Williams students, families, faculty and staff:

Over the last few weeks, Williams has been assessing the question of whether or not to hold commencement and reunion, in light of the pandemic’s progress and impact. I have decided, reluctantly and with significant disappointment, that the college cannot safely hold a traditional in-person Williams commencement or reunion in June.

Every year I share in the joy of seniors who are celebrating the successful completion of their Williams education, and their excitement about embarking on their next adventures. Seeing the delight of parents and families, who have supported their students in remarkable ways, is equally moving. A week later, I welcome alumni who are returning from adventures of their own. We often say Williams is more than a campus: it is a worldwide community. Commencement and reunion together demonstrate this truth.

Seniors, while I am heartbroken that graduation cannot happen in the conventional way at the conventional time, I am determined that you will have your moment. Rather than deciding for you what that should look like, my colleagues and I want to start by asking you. Following this message, you will receive an email from College Marshal and J. Hodge Markgraf Professor of Chemistry Jay Thoman ’82, with a questionnaire you can use to share your ideas. Your responses will help inform our thinking about the options.

While the result almost certainly will not look exactly like a traditional graduation, Professor Thoman and all of us are determined to create something memorable and meaningful. Seniors, please complete the questionnaire and tell us what that might look like for you.

Alumni will shortly receive a separate note from me about Reunion 2020. Our colleagues in the Office of College Relations are going to work with the classes of the “aughts and fives,” including our 25th and 50th reunion classes, on alternate ways to get together. My heart goes out especially to the class of 1970, whose own senior spring term was canceled due to protests over the bombing of Cambodia, and who are now having their 50th reunion disrupted by a global pandemic. I promise that we will find other ways to celebrate these milestone anniversaries, which are so important to alumni and college alike.

You have no idea how much I wish we could come together in the customary ways, to celebrate as a community. But I am confident that we can work together creatively to make the most of even this unprecedented challenge. Seniors, I hope you will share your thoughts and hopes via the questionnaire. Together, we will craft celebrations befitting the great class of 2020 and all our reunion classes.

Wishing you and your families all the best in the weeks ahead,

Maud Mandel
President
Williams College
Williamstown, Mass.

Dorset Theatre Festival suspends 2020 season; eyes re-invented program

Dorset, Vermont (April 2, 2020) — Dorset Theatre Festival will suspend its previously announced 43rd Season, which was scheduled to begin June 25, 2020, at the Dorset Playhouse.

“We believe a theater should be like the kitchen table of the community — a place where people come to laugh together, celebrate together, and learn together,” said Artistic Director Dina Janis. “These challenging times call for tough choices, and although the decision not to proceed with the 2020 season is a tough choice, we are focusing on re-inventing our annual celebration of great plays for these extraordinary times.”

“We are working on creating digital programming which will begin rolling out this spring,” said Janis. “We are so fortunate that our new play development programs have become such a haven for content creation, and the writers and artists who are part of these initiatives are excited to share work in this new online format.”

The festival plans to return as soon as possible, Janis added. “We will do something in-person as soon as we are able. We are thinking of these beautiful plays we had scheduled as ‘on hold for now’ so we can make a really exciting plan for what might be possible when people are allowed to gather again.”

Dorset, like many arts organizations and artists, is developing new ways of connecting in the world of social distancing. The Dorset Theatre Festival Women Artists Writing Group, which typically meets twice each month in New York City, has moved its meetings to an online platform. The Jean E. Miller Young Playwrights Program is being offered online for the first time ever in its eight-year history, still at no charge to the local schools who participate. Artist development programs, including the festival’s new commissioning and fellowship program, will also forge ahead.

Increasingly known for bringing cutting-edge theatre to rural southern Vermont, Dorset Theatre Festival’s mission is to “create bold, innovative, and authentic theatre: enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring our audience through the celebration of great plays.” The Festival’s staff hopes the suspension of the summer season will keep the organization alive and well in what are dark times for live arts around the world.

In reaching the decision not to move forward with the 2020 season, Dorset Theatre Festival coordinated with Weston Playhouse Theatre Company and other arts organizations in the region. “This is a tough message to deliver,” said Janis. “Susanna Gellert at Weston and I felt it was important to get through this situation together, in a way that the arts region we’ve been working so hard to build here in Southern Vermont will survive.”

As Dorset maintains its year-round new play development programs, and works toward finding new ways for patrons to experience live theatre from their homes, the Festival hopes its community and supporters will join them to safeguard the organization’s 43-year history for many more years to come.

“These are uncertain times for all of us,” said Janis. “At Dorset, we are committed not only to continuing to support our ongoing year-round programs, but also our people on staff who make it possible. Every summer we do our best to bring world-class theatre and artists to Southern Vermont, so every step we take right now is to make sure we can come back from this.”

Patrons who have already purchased subscriptions to the 2020 season will be contacted by the box office. The festival hopes as many people who can will consider converting their purchase to a tax-deductible donation for the non-profit organization. “Our deepest hope would be for patrons and supporters to make a donation in lieu of tickets you may have purchased during the 2020 Season. By donating now, you join our staff and board in pressing forward to make sure our professional summer season continues to thrive in the ‘brave little state,’” said Janis .

Dorset Theatre Festival’s box office is available by phone Tuesday – Friday from noon – 4 p.m. at 802-867-2223 ext. 101, and by email at boxoffice@dorsettheatrefestival.org.

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Participating in Alford public meetings online

Alford (April 2) — By executive order on March 12, 2020, Gov. Charlie Baker suspended certain provisions of the state open meeting law due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Official meetings need not be held in an open and accessible public place, and a majority of the members of the public body need not be physically present for quorum to exist.

Buildings are closed to the public until further notice and the public will not be permitted to attend meetings in-person. Anyone desiring to review or participate in a public meeting should email a request to offices@townofalford.com and a link to the teleconference will be provided.

From this point forward, all COVID-19resources, information and news will be posted under the Board Of Health page.

This official post has been approved by the Alford Select Board.

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Berkshire Theatre Group announces revised 2020 season; plans to open Aug. 1

Pittsfield (April 1) – Berkshire Theatre Group (BTG) and Kate Maguire (artistic director, CEO) announces the theatre’s revised 2020 season. Below is a message from Kate Maguire, sent out to all patrons on March 31:

Vladimir: Let us not waste our time in idle discourse! (Pause. Vehemently.) Let us do something while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. Not indeed that we personally are needed. Others would meet the case equally well, if not better. To all mankind they were addressed, those cries for help still ringing in our ears! But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late!

– Samuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot”

Dear Friends,

First, and most important, from all of us at Berkshire Theatre Group, we send you heartfelt greetings and sincere hopes that you and your family are all well. We are indeed all needed at this time and all mankind is us. The entire world is one in need right now, and we will all play a role in meeting again on the other side of this global pandemic.

I want to offer you an update. Our staff is working from home. We are putting plans in place to open our doors on Aug. 1, with the iconic musical Godspell on the Fitzpatrick Main Stage in our beloved playhouse. The Unicorn theatre will open on Aug. 8 with the musical comedy They’re Playing Our Song by Neil Simon, Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager. Next up at the Unicorn is a beautiful story of one family’s perseverance through uncertain times, And a Nightingale Sang, in its original fall slot, opening on Sept. 24.

Over Labor Day weekend, Letters to the President, originally scheduled for July, will run for two very special performances at The Colonial Theatre.

Also at The Colonial Theatre, Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. will swim into late October, and Peter Pan will fly from summer to the holiday season, in December. Peter Pan first premiered in 1929. At that time, J.M. Barrie dedicated all future proceeds to a children’s hospital in London, as the times demanded caretaking. We are in such times as well. Our production of Peter Pan will be dedicated to all the brave healthcare workers in our community. To each, we will offer a complimentary ticket to our Peter Pan. Details to follow.

Other spring and summer shows previously announced will be postponed, with dates to be determined. One of BTG’s box office associates will be calling patrons with tickets to make arrangements for ticket exchanges, donations, and credits.

In the meantime, BTG will be offering weekly online classes and talks on BTG’s Facebook page, presented by our incredible artists and alumni, and will feature online programs for all ages. A schedule will be sent out every week by email.

We will also be posting weekly “couch concerts” on our social media, featuring many of our BTG family singing their favorite songs!

A full schedule of fall events at the Colonial and Garage, including music, comedy and more will be announced soon. Please stay tuned as we are busy programming.

We look forward to opening our doors and being with you. The human spirit is being challenged right now and we know the theatre has always offered a poetic sanctuary, particularly in uncertain times. We will be that resource for our community once again. Our theatre is nearing its 100th anniversary. Our long history offers comfort and confidence that we will survive through these days.

To those of you who have provided us with donations during this time of such struggle, we send our gratitude for this critical care.

Like Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s enduring tale of survival … we go on.

Yours most sincerely,

Kate Maguire
Artistic Director, CEO

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CTSB closes studio to public but can receive programming digitally

Lee (April 1) — Community Television for the Southern Berkshires would like to inform our community that our studio is closed to the public but we are open to receiving media from the public via Zoom recordings (accounts are free) and using wetransfer.com to send in media files.

Media files can be sent to Info@CTSBtv.org using Wetransfer. Community members can e mail us at the same address with questions about using Zoom and wetransfer. We encourage the public to send us Zoom recordings less than 30 minutes in length.

Conversations that better inform our community is the content we are hoping for right now but we also encourage any content that is educational or entertaining. We are all working from home and have full capacity to receive, edit and upload content.

Thank you,

Richard Frederick
Executive Director
CTSB-TV

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Jacob’s Pillow cancels entire 2020 season

Dear Pillow Community,

I want to start off by hoping that you, your family, and your friends are healthy and safe, and then by thanking you for your enduring dedication to our beloved Jacob’s Pillow.

By now, I’m sure you have received many cancellation announcements from the arts organizations you treasure, as we respond to the global spread of the coronavirus.

Even so, it is still very hard to tell you that, for the first time in our 88-year history, our board and executive leadership have made the difficult decision to cancel the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival for this summer.

We remain unwavering in the commitment to our mission. And, in the coming months, we will do all we can to take care of our staff, community, artists, and audiences. When the time is right, we’ll look to create strategies that support our mutual recoveries and well-being.

Currently, we look forward to exploring different ways we can bring to you what is quintessential about the Pillow experience digitally, and we hope you will join us. For more details about these plans, I hope you’ll watch this video:

I also invite you to read my statement in full here; important information about ticketing refunds is included.

At times like these, we can find comfort in the courage and moral imagination of our ancestors and predecessors. In the midst of World War II, with its many shortages and hardships, Pillow founder Ted Shawn wrote, “Jacob’s Pillow has great and necessary work to do … and we must carry on no matter what the difficulties.”

We continue with that conviction today more than ever. Thank you always.

Best Regards,

Pam Tatge
Executive & Artistic Director

Statement from West Stockbridge health board on COVID-19

The West Stockbridge Board of Health, acting through its agent, is issuing the following advisory pertaining to the current 2019 coronavirus health crisis:

On March 27, Gov. Charlie Baker issued new COVID-19 transportation guidelines for Massachusetts instructing all travelers arriving to the state to self-quarantine for 14 days. Visitors are instructed not to travel to Massachusetts if they are displaying symptoms.

In light of the fact that West Stockbridge has a large number of homes and other lodging establishments used for part-time and short-term periods, the board instructs persons coming to town for a stay to abide by these guidelines for both their own safety and the safety of other residents and neighbors. It is paramount to be cognizant of the magnitude of this health issue and act in a responsible and considerate manner.

For those persons who are coming to West Stockbridge for an extended stay, it is urged that they contact the board if they have any pre-existing physical condition or need that they may require assistance with while here.

The state has implemented a new modification system for updates by texting COVIDMA to 888–777. Information is also available at mass.gov/COVID19, or by calling 211.

– Earl Moffat, Board of Health agent

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Congressman Neal and BHS official to hold telephone town hall on Tuesday

What: Telephone Town Hall with Chairman Richard E. Neal and Dr. James Lederer of Berkshire Health System
Where: Call in to: 866-383-2731
When: Tuesday, March 31 at 12:30pm

U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal addressing the Four Freedoms rally in Pittsfield in 2017.

Congressman Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield and chairman of the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means, will hold a second telephone town hall on Tuesday to give an update from Washington after the passage of the CARES Act on Friday.

Neal will be joined by Dr. James Lederer of Berkshire Health Systems. Dr. Lederer will brief listeners on what is being done in Berkshire County to combat COVID-19.

Dr. Lederer serves as chief medical and chief quality officer for Berkshire Health Systems. He is trained and board certified in infectious diseases from the University of Tennessee – Memphis. He has been in leadership roles with health systems since 1998 and joined BHS in mid-January 2020.

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Statement from state health department on deaths at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home

BOSTON (March 30, 2020) – It is imperative that the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home provide a safe environment for the veteran residents, and the dedicated staff who serve them. Superintendent Bennett Walsh has been placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately.

Val Liptak, RN, currently the CEO of Western Massachusetts Hospital, will assume responsibility for the administration of the Soldiers’ Home at this time. We have also implemented an onsite clinical command team comprised of medical, epidemiological, and operational experts responsible for the comprehensive and rapid response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

All of these enhancements will build upon the existing protocols and work that align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance. Today’s actions underscore the state’s commitment to our veterans and frontline health care employees during this unprecedented public health crisis.

— Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Dan Tsai

Editor’s note:

Walsh was removed from his duties after at least five — and possibly as many as 11 — veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home died of COVID-19. An additional 25 residents are believed to have contracted the deadly virus.

Read more at MassLive.com.

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Updated COVID-19 information from town of Sheffield

Shefffield (March 30) — The Town has updated its website to allow residents to access local information regarding COVID-19, including EMS response protocols. Please click here:

  • The Sheffield Board of Health is asking all owners and managers working in Sheffield’s lodging businesses (this includes any and all short-term rentals of any sort) to remind renters/guests that Gov. Charlie Baker has instructed all travelers arriving in Massachusetts to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Additionally, visitors who are displaying symptoms are instructed to not travel to Massachusetts; our medical facilities and first responders are already being stretched beyond capacity, and personal protective equipment used to protect our first responders and the medical patients they deal with is in critically-short supply. We are asking everyone, residents, second-home owners, and visitors alike, to act responsibly under the current state of emergency.
  • The Board of Selectmen has voted to close keep Town Hall until April 13. Anyone with questions should call the Town Administrator’s Office at 413-229-7000 x152.
  • The Board of Selectmen voted to close the Senior Center and all activities until April 30. Questions may be directed to the Senior Center at 413-229-7037.

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Great Barrington develops COVID-19 resource guide for small business owners

Great Barrington (March 30, 2020) — In an effort to provide support and resources to its small business community, the town has developed a guide titled “A Resource Kit for Small Businesses in the Era of COVID-19.” The electronic packet will be distributed through the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and on the Town’s website using this link.

“This guide is a simple, straightforward list of resources from every level of government with the appropriate hyperlinks to each organization. It includes information on refundable payroll tax credits, debt relief, bridge loans, and information on ways to protect yourself, your employees and your customers, as well as other general best practice suggestions during this COVID-19 outbreak,” said Town Manager Mark Pruhenski.

Town staff from the Planning/Community Development office will update this document periodically as new information becomes available.

For questions, please contact the office of the Selectboard/Town Manager at 413-528-1619 ext 2.

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President Trump approves major disaster declaration for Massachusetts

Washington — FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to supplement the commonwealth, tribal and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on Jan. 20, 2020, and continuing.

The President’s action makes federal funding available for Crisis Counseling for affected individuals in all areas of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Federal funding is also available to the commonwealth, eligible tribal and local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75 percent.

W. Russell Webster has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the commonwealth and warranted by the results of further assessments.

Follow FEMA online, on Twitter FEMA or @FEMAEspanol, on FEMA’s Facebook page or Espanol page.

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Dog License Deadline Extended to April 30

Great Barrington — The town has extended the deadline for dog license registrations for an additional 30 days. The new deadline will be Thursday April 30, 2020. The process is simple, if you have any questions, please call the town clerk’s office at 413-528-1619 ext 3, or email jmessina@townofgb.org and someone will be able to assist you. Registration fees are $5 per year for dogs that are spayed/neutered and $15 for dogs that are not spayed/neutered. There are three options available for residents to submit their dog license registration:

Online: townofgb.org/home/pages/online-payments

Mail: Town Clerk, 334 Main Street, Great Barrington MA 01230

Drop Box: The town has installed a bill drop box to the left of the main entrance of the Town Hall.

The town reminds dog owners that they need to have a current rabies certificate on file in order to be eligible to renew. There will be a $25 late fee beginning Friday May 1. For more information, please visit the town clerk’s web page.

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PPE donations being accepted at Great Barrington Town Hall

Great Barrington — The town of Great Barrington is collecting donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help support our local healthcare providers during this COVID-19 public health emergency.

If you have clean, un-used, N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields, gowns, and other similar single-use protective supplies, please drop them off at the Town Hall, 334 Main Street. There is a drop box located near the front door. All donations will be delivered to organizations in need right here in South County.

Statement from Hancock Shaker Village announcing lay-offs, wage cuts and economic impact of COVID-19

Hancock (March 26, 2020) — Hancock Shaker Village, a living history museum and the oldest working farm in western Massachusetts, announced its plans to sharply reduce its workforce, cancel or postpone events, and delay the opening of its 2020 season until May 15 or further notice. The farm and gardens will remain operational during this critical period, a time in which dozens of animals are born and acres of crops and medicinal herbs are planted.

Of 22 year-round employees, 10 have been laid off, while the remaining salaried staff were informed Monday of wage cuts between 10-35%. In addition, the village has suspended hiring 25 seasonal staff (April through December) who were scheduled to begin work March 30 — making the total impact 35 of 47 village employees laid off. Seeds Market Café, the Village’s farm-to table cafe, which employs an additional 8 people, also will not open until the Village reopens.

“It is extraordinarily painful to make these cuts to our already lean staff,” said Director Jennifer Trainer Thompson, “but we are cognizant of the fact that we have a profound responsibility to protect and preserve the treasured institution that we tend.” Settled in 1790, Hancock Shaker Village is comprised of 20 historic buildings, 22,000 Shaker objects, heirloom gardens and farm. Spring is a time of rebirth, and more than a dozen animals in the barn are pregnant. One goat recently gave birth to twins.

Farm to remain operational

In the face of layoffs and other emergency measures, after consultation with farm staff, trustees, and community members, the museum made the decision to keep the gardens operational this season. While a beautiful part of the landscape for visitors, the village is also a working farm. “We have 75 subscribers to our CSA,” said Thompson, “and give an additional 10-15% away to local families with food insecurities. We believe it is vitally important that local food systems remain intact and strong in the face of challenges such as the one the world is confronting.”

Regional economic impact

In addition to employing more than 55 people in its farm and gardens, education department, administration, store, and café — not to mention ongoing construction and restoration work on a vast property dating to the 1700s — Hancock Shaker Village has expenditures of about $2.5 million per year, which:

  • Create 92.5 full-time equivalent jobs in the community (in construction work, services, etc.)
  • Contribute more than $2.1 million annually in household income to community residents
  • Contribute almost $190,000 per year to state and government revenues

The village, which serves more than 55,000 visitors per year, is a generator of tourism for Pittsfield and the Berkshires. More than 10,000 schoolchildren visit each year. A vibrant institution and its visitation impact the community, as well as state and federal government, by:

  • Creating more than $1.1 million in expenditures throughout the region
  • Supporting the employment of 30.9 full-time equivalent jobs
  • Contributing to nearly $675,000 in local household income
  • Streaming more than $120,000 in funds to state and federal government

The above numbers do not include the substantial economic impact on the tax base that the village’s leasing tenant, Syncarpha Community Solar, contributes to the local economy.

Programmatic changes

Hancock Shaker Village’s popular Baby Animals event, a three-week rite of spring festival that last year attracted 14,000 visitors, was scheduled to open Saturday, April 11, but has been tentatively moved to Friday, May 15. “We eke through the winter,” said Thompson, “incurring great costs in preparing for the 2020 season, mounting exhibitions, working on programs, preparing the farm and gardens, scheduling workshops and events. Baby Animals refills our coffers. It’s an important economic engine — attracting 14,000 visitors to Berkshire County in the middle of mud season. Should we have to cancel Baby Animals, it would have a serious impact.” Thompson noted that the animals remain babies well into June, and remains hopeful that Baby Animals might still be possible. All events scheduled before May 15 have been canceled or postponed.

“There are many anguishing decisions we have had to make, other than laying off staff,” Thompson said. “Baby Animals affects our tent vendor, our craftspeople — everyone from the food truck vendors to the face painters. And we’re not even talking about weddings. Would you like to be the one to tell a hysterical bride that her wedding can’t occur here in May? Of course, she knows that in her heart already — everyone feels this pain — but it is brought to the surface in a hundred ways, every day. Canceling a bride’s wedding doesn’t just impact her and us. It’s also the caterer, the hotel, the DJ, the florist who sells boutonnieres.”

The bride who was scheduled to marry at the village on May 2, despite the village offering alternative dates later in the summer, decided to elope. All of her family is quarantined in Westchester County, New York.

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Alford Asking Second Home Owners To Self-Isolate

In a recent statement, the town of Great Barrington has asked second-home owners to self-isolate and the town of Alford supports this decision.

While we still welcome our second home owners, we’re asking that you self-quarantine immediately upon arrival for at least for 14 days to minimize COVID-19 exposure within our local community. In addition, you can keep up to date on the latest official Massachusetts COVID-19 alerts via the web and text messaging, see Mass.gov for more information.

In addition, for the protection of our highway department and for everyone that uses the transfer station, all used tissues, paper towels and other contaminated wipes need to be properly disposed of in sealed garbage bags and put in the compactor, not the paper recycling bin. We also ask that you pay close attention to what types of recyclables go into what bins. See the transfer station page on the town website for more information.

CHP Family Services April 2020 Update

Hello CHP families,

First and foremost, we hope that you and your families are well.

Gov. Baker recently announced the restriction of non-essential business activities and the need for social distancing. All CHP playgroups, Family Services activities, and access to our centers in Great Barrington and Dalton are suspended until further notice. We anticipate knowing more in early May.

WIC is OPEN. We are taking appointments by phone. So if you need benefits or have questions, call 413-528-0457. We continue to provide food through the food pantry, offer SNAP assistance, and other necessities.

During these uncertain, and yes a bit scary, times we encourage you to appreciate loved ones and this great community that we live in. Let us know if you need help. We are here for you.

Community Health Programs | 444 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, MA 01230

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Great Barrington Officials Request Relief for Commercial and Residential Tenants

Great Barrington (March 26, 2020) — Individual members of the Selectboard and the town manager urge local property owners to seek relief from mortgage lenders and pass that relief on to both business owners and residential tenants throughout the town.

“With many businesses currently shuttered and employers being significantly impacted by this recent COVID-19 public health emergency, we need to be working together as a community to help each other in this time of need” said Stephen Bannon, chairman of the Selectboard.

The Town is also looking to model similar offers to taxpayers in the coming weeks and months and will be discussing the possibility of delaying tax and license deadlines by an additional 30 days, once approval is granted from the state. The Town will provide more updates on these and other similar actions shortly.

For questions, please contact the office of the Selectboard/Town Manager at 413-528-1619 x2

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Egremont and COVID-19 – March 26, 2020

Egremont — To protect town residents and employees during the coronavirus pandemic, the Egremont Selectboard has declared a state of emergency and has implemented the following:

  • Town Hall remains closed to the public until further notice. Essential staff will continue to work normal hours and are still available to assist you by phone, internet or by individually arranged appointment.
  • There are boxes outside all Town Hall doors to leave payments or paperwork.
  • All Town Hall offices can be reached at 413-528-0182. A free Wi-Fi Hotspot is available in the Egremont Town Hall parking lot. Email addresses for all town offices are on the town’s webpage. If you are unable to find a particular email, use tegremont@egremont-ma.gov and it will be forwarded to the appropriate person.
  • The transfer station will remain open as usual; however the attendant will not assist you with your trash. The swap shop is closed effective immediately. The transfer station will suspend accepting construction and demolition waste, TVs, electronics and fluorescent light bulbs. Please plan accordingly.
  • The police and fire departments are available as always and will be working closely with Southern Berkshire Ambulance Squad on medical calls. Continue to call 911 if you are in need of emergency personnel.
  • All non-essential meetings of town boards and commissions are postponed until further notice with the exception of the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Health.
  • The Library is currently closed. The library director Lesliann Furcht monitors phone messages and can be reached via email at egrlibrary@egremont-ma.gov. E-books continue to be available.
  • Town meeting and town election are postponed. Await further information on this.

To access information from the state:

  • For text message alerts, text COVIDMA to 888-777.
  • For up-to-date accurate information: https://www.mass.gov/Covid19
  • If you feel you need emotional support, Call 2-1-1 Call2talk.

Reminders:

  • Practice physical distance (6 feet) from other people.
  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • If you are sick, isolate at home and contact your physician or the ER.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Self-quarantine if you think you may have been exposed to the virus or have come in contact with someone with the virus.

During these turbulent times your cooperation, understanding and patience is deeply appreciated. The Selectboard will continue to keep you updated with any changes, additions or suspension of any the directives as described above as it continues to monitor federal, state and local developments.

Self-Quarantine Advisory

We have heard the pandemic referred to in several ways. Coronavirus is the pathogen (virus) that causes the disease and since it is a new strain of the virus it is often referred to as novel coronavirus. COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by that virus.

Egremont’s Select Board and Board of Health monitor local, state, federal and WHO advisories continuously.

Collectively, we are confident that our prior communications and our communities respect and adherence to them have mitigated the COVID-19 pandemic within Egremont.

We are confident that the high standard Egremont has set in these early days among its residents will strengthen over the next weeks in face of the pandemic’s escalation.

In the United States, testing for COVID-19 has seriously lagged behind the spread of the disease. Overseas where the amount and rapidity of testing is more advanced, more virus positive individuals are detected earlier.

We are not in a 15-day pause. We are only in the first phase of dealing with a long-term pandemic. We must be calm and reasoned and base our collective actions and policies on facts while we safeguard ourselves and our neighbors.

Because the status of the pandemic changes hourly, many of our family members, friends and neighbors are confused and anxious. The consequence is that the well-intentioned among us, motivated to protect themselves and others, can communicate via social media mistaken or incomplete information out of fear and not fact .

We urge you to think more than twice before pressing the send button on your message during this unprecedented time.

Egremont’s Select Board and Board of Health are committed to provide you with accurate, up-to-date information about challenges we will face together over the next months. Please remember, this time, too, shall pass.

Our advice based on credited sources; If you are well but know you have been exposed, you should self-quarantine for 14 days. If you are well and have not been exposed as far as you know, you should self-monitor. If you were in New York recently (and not quarantined) you should assume you have been exposed. For more information, please click on this link.

Be safe. Be well. And please support your neighbors.

Egremont Selectboard
Egremont Board of Health

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Great Barrington temporarily suspends ban on single-use plastic bags

Great Barrington (March 26, 2020) — In compliance with Gov. Charlie Baker’s March 25 order banning the use of re-usable shopping bags and lifting local bans on plastic bags throughout the state, the town will suspend enforcement of its 2013 plastic bag reduction bylaw until further notice.

The order issued by the Baker administration yesterday is another move to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the state. The order also prohibits stores from charging for paper or plastic bags while the order is in place.

For questions, please contact the office of the selectboard/town manager at 413-528-1619 x2.

Reusable cloth grocery bags, which many shoppers use in place of plastic bags, often come into with poultry, meats and produce that have bacteria on them. If not washed regularly, the bags can become contaminated with coliform bacteria and E. coli, an indicator of fecal contamination.

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State launches COVID-19 text message notification system

Boston (March 24, 2020) – The Baker-Polito administration today announced the launch of a new text-based notification system to deliver important information about the state’s COVID-19 response to Massachusetts residents.

“Throughout this outbreak, we have consistently reminded our residents to get their information from trusted sources. Today we’re making that easier,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “With the addition of this new communication tool, we’re making it easier for everyone to stay informed about state actions and important announcements related to COVID-19.”

The new messaging tool called “AlertsMA” will allow residents to subscribe to real-time notifications by texting the keyword COVIDMA to 888-777. After signing up, state and public health officials can send short messages and links to information directly to a resident’s cell phone or other mobile device.

“Being well-informed during this public health emergency, and following health officials’ advice, can help us to slow and eventually stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, the state COVID-19 Command Center director. “Staying connected with our residents is a central part of our response.”

The AlertsMA notifications can be used to share news, prevention information, and help connect residents to information that they are looking for through other public information channels, such as the state’s Information line, 2-1-1, and website searches on Mass.Gov.

The state’s Executive Office of Technology Services and Security has partnered with Everbridge, whose platform powers AlertsMA, to bring the notification service online during the COVID-19 response. Everbridge is a Massachusetts-based company located in Burlington. The company’s notification service is assisting the public health response around the country, including New York City, San Francisco, and Houston.

“During this public health emergency, it is increasingly important that we leverage technology to enhance our ability to communicate with the residents and businesses of the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Technology Services and Security Curtis M. Wood. “This text message notification service is a tool that reaches people in the easiest way possible – on their mobile devices – to keep them informed on the latest updates from the Commonwealth.”

“Statewide public notification systems like AlertsMA will keep people safe and businesses running when critical events occur,” said David Meredith, CEO of Burlington-based Everbridge. “With our headquarters here in Massachusetts, Everbridge proudly serves the Commonwealth as their statewide mass notification provider, keeping citizens informed during COVID-19. We would like to thank the governor and the state for their continued prioritization on emergency readiness, response and communications.”

The state will promote the service on Mass.gov, through digital displays and billboards at the MBTA, via MassDOT, and through social media.

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Town updates COVID-19 response actions; CodeRED test set for Wednesday

Great Barrington — The town will conduct a test of the CodeRED emergency alert system on Wednesday, March 25, at noon, said Town Manager Mark Pruhenski.

Residents who have signed up for the CodeRED alert system can expect test emails, texts and/or an automated phone call on Wednesday. The test is intended to make sure that the system is operating properly and that residents who are signed up receive messages during this period of COVID-19. If town-wide communications are required, CodeRED will be used.

Anyone signed up for CodeRED who does NOT receive an alert is asked to contact the town’s email inbox for COVID-19 information, at ksmith@townofgb.org, or call Town Hall, (413) 528-1619 ext. 3.

To sign up for CodeRED, visit the town’s website homepage, townofgb.org; the system is available to town residents and people who work or do business in Great Barrington. A Great Barrington physical address, for work or business, is required to sign up.

Effective today, the town has eliminated the drive-thru option for patrons at Mason and Ramsdell Library.

The library had hoped to maintain lending with patrons ordering books and other materials in advance for pickup outside. But Pruhenski said the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and Massachusetts Library Association are now recommending against curbside service. The library encourages residents to utilize its extensive online collection.

Pruhenski also clarified that all town parks are open, but that playground equipment is off limits and is not being sanitized.

Also: town residents with questions about statewide COVID-19 updates and information can call the state’s 2-1-1 information line.

Finally, before going to a local hospital or emergency room call contact the Berkshire Health Systems line: 1-855-262-5465.

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Update on Town of Sheffield Actions in Response to COVID – 19

To Sheffield Residents: March 23, 2020

In light of Gov. Baker’s latest executive orders, your Board of Selectmen took several
actions today:

  • Town Hall will be closed to the public until April 7, but will continue to have essential services staffing. These employees will be working normal hours and are there to take your phone calls, provide information and process town business.
  • If you need to meet with any department/employee in Town Hall, please call the Town Administrator’s office at 229-7000 x 152. At this time, no one other than employees are allowed in Town Hall without such clearance.

We will continue to keep you informed and thank you all for your understanding and patience. Up-to-date information will be posted on the Town’s website at sheffieldma.gov.

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Mahaiwe now cancels events through May 15

Great Barrington — The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center announces the cancellation and postponement of events through Friday, May 15 (a previous statement had announced that the Mahaiwe had only canceled its events from March 13 through April 10). With the health and safety of the community in mind, the theater is now closed to the public and the box office is accessible via phone only.

Canceled events include concerts by Close Encounters With Music, Met Opera in HD broadcasts, classic movies, and the Bolshoi Ballet in HD broadcast of Jewels. Postponed events include the Bolshoi Ballet in HD broadcast of Romeo and Juliet, London’s National Theatre Live in HD broadcast of Cyrano de Bergerac, and concert by the Madeleine Peyroux Trio. Please see mahaiwe.org for details.

For ticket exchange credit, refunds, and the option to donate tickets to the theater, please call the Mahaiwe box office at 413.528.0100. Box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

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Berkshire Museum to extend temporary closure through May 3

Berkshire Museum will remain closed through Sunday, May 3, as part of our continued efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our community. Conditions permitting, we expect to re-open our doors Monday, May 4.

Berkshire Museum staff will continue to prepare for future exhibitions and provide expert care for the residents of our aquarium. The museum has launched a new series of online experiences for our community including daily programs for early learners and a word-of-the-day-inspired Daily Doodle.

A new podcast exploring the museum’s broad collection will debut next week, along with a series of written pieces centered on our current exhibition She Shapes History. Programs and content will be available at berkshiremuseum.org/athome, youtube.com/berkshiremuseum, and facebook.com/berkshiremuseum.

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Coronavirus claims first Berkshire victim

lAccording to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, on Friday a 70-year-old man was the first in Berkshire County to succumb to the coronavirus outbreak. He was reported to have had an underlying health condition.

As of March 22, the DPH reports that 23 cases of COVID19 have been discovered in Berkshire County, with 646 cases now being confirmed in the state.

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Lime Rock Park closed to the public until April 30 due to COVID-19 coronavirus crisis

Lakeville, Conn. (March 20, 2020) — Lime Rock Park announced today that they have closed to the public as part of Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive oders related to the COVID-19 outbreak. This closure will remain in effect through April 30, unless earlier modified, extended, or terminated by the governor.

This closure will affect all daily track rentals and events previously scheduled at the facility. Lime Rock staff will continue to work within the “Stay Safe, Stay Home” policy and will be available to answer calls and concerns during this time.

The decision to reschedule any major events will be made at a future time. Our current intention is to run all major events for the 2020 season.

While we cannot predict the timeline or outcome of the current, unprecedented health crisis, Lime Rock remains committed to return to normal operations once circumstances warrant. Your understanding, flexibility and support of Lime Rock during these challenging times is very much appreciated.

The public is asked to refer to the Park’s website limerock.com and Facebook page for updates on the closing as well as other important news related to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on operations. Lime Rock staff can be reached by calling 860-435-5000.

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Update from town of Sheffield on actions in response to COVID–19

Dear Sheffield Residents:                       March 20, 2020

We hope that each of you are doing well and taking care of yourself by staying at home as much as possible, keeping at least a 6-foot distance from others, washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face. These have been hard for all of us to learn to do but this may be a case where practice not only makes perfect – but more importantly, keeps us healthy.

We also thank each of you for being so cooperative and supportive of the actions your town’s management team has taken this week. Your use of the mailbox outside of Town Hall has been an indication of how we are all pulling together to make needed adjustments.

Here’s today’s update:

Town government is running smoothly.

  • All committee, commission and board meetings will now, effective immediately, be virtual. We’ll be sending out a separate email blast on how you may continue to participate. Watch for that later today.
  • Massachusetts 2-1-1 – You are urged to use 2-1-1 for information, resources, and referrals regarding COVID-19. Operators are staffing this hotline 24/7 and translators are available in multiple languages. You may dial 2-1-1 from any landline or cellphone, or use the live chat option on the Mass 2-1-1 website. The live chat option is also there for you if you just want to talk with someone and want that someone to not be a close friend or family member.
  • Please take your 2020US Census at my2020census.gov or by filling out your paper census. Remember, each person’s census response equals $250+/month in potential services to our residents. Your completing the census is more important now than ever.
  • Consider wearing a mask when you go out. Anything over your nose and mouth may keep you safer.

We will keep you informed in the days ahead and thank you all for your understanding and patience. Up-to-date information will be posted on the Town’s website: sheffieldma.gov.

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Egremont Town Hall COVID-19 Policy

To help manage the spread of the coronavirus, and as a precautionary measure, the Town of Egremont has closed Town Hall to public traffic. Staff will continue to work regular business hours and are available by phone and email.

If your need to drop off anything for a department, please use the drop boxes located by the outside doors of Town Hall. Please call a department at the number listed below to notify them:

  • Select Board/Office Admin — 413-528-0182 x10
  • Office Clerk — 413-528-0182 x17
  • Board of Health — 413-528-0182 x22
  • Building Inspector — 413-528-0182 x13
  • Assessors — 413-528-0182 x14
  • Treasurer — 413-528-0182 x12
  • Tax Collector Town Clerk — 413-528-0182 x11

Please refer to the Town of Egremont webpage egremont-ma.gov for updates.

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Neal calls on on Trump to use Defense Production Act powers

Springfield — Congressman Richard E. Neal, who represent Berkshire County in Washington and is chairman of the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means, released a statement on March 20 urging President Donald Trump to use the Defense Production Act to address widespread shortages of key materials during the coronavirus epidemic, including ventilators, diagnostic test supplies, masks and other personal protective equipment.

“Health care providers in the commonwealth have been working around the clock to meet the urgent demands of the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency,” said Neal.

“However, limited supplies are restricting their ability to do so. In order to truly combat the coronavirus, our health care professionals urgently need an influx of medical and personal protective equipment. I am calling on President Trump to immediately enact the powers of the Defense Production Act for the mass production of critical supplies to ensure that more testing kits, ventilators, and protective personal equipment gets into the hands of those who are in dire need of it. Time is of the essence and President Trump must act before this shortage worsens.”

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Update on Scoville Memorial Library

Scoville Memorial Library in Salisbury, Connecticut, is currently closed until further notice. During this time, you may call the library Tuesday through Friday from 2-4, at 860-435-2838 to arrange for home delivery in Sharon, Salisbury or Lakeville, get help using streaming services or to ask questions.

Our streaming services are listed on our website under catalogs, e-libraries. If you don’t have a card, apply online at the How Can I section of our website. We will also offer curbside pickup service during these hours or by appointment. Streaming services are available only to Scoville Library cardholders.

Information on library services during this time are available on the website, social media or by signing up for our e-News in the How Can I section of our website, . Also on our website are links to reliable information sources on COVID-19, under the Helpful Links menu. All in-person library programs are canceled or postponed until the beginning of May.

Some programs will be offered on-line. Please check our website for on-line offerings as it is updated with the most current information. If you have an interest in particular program being virtually presented please let the library know which ones you would like to attend by emailing scovilleadultprograms@gmail.com We are doing our best to provide services during this challenging time.

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Berkshire Bank’s Main Street Great Barrington office closed until further notice

To Our Valued Customers,

Berkshire Bank is committed to taking every necessary precaution to protect our employees, customers, and communities in an effort to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Effective 3/20/2020, in an effort to support social distancing and the best interest and safety of our customers, employees and communities until further notice we will be closing our 244 Main St, Great Barrington branch. During this time, we recommend you visit our other two locations at 255 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, MA or 103 North Main Street, Sheffield, MA.

At these alternative locations we will be modifying customer access to our branch locations. Our branch lobbies will be closed to unscheduled walk-in customers. You can continue to utilize our drive-up services, ATMs, or schedule an in-person appointment and leverage our flexible banking options.

While we’re modifying our lobby services, you can continue to access your accounts 24/7 through our online banking platform and utilize many other alternatives listed below.

Branch Services Offered

  • Night Drop – You can continue to make your deposits through our night drops at either our Stockbridge Road (Great Barrington) or North Main Street (Sheffield) offices.
  • Schedule In-Branch Appointments – Our teams can assist you by scheduling appointments in an effort to reduce the number of customers in close proximity to one another at the same time. Please reach out to either our Stockbridge Road (Great Barrington) or North Main Street (Sheffield) offices to schedule an appointment.

Flexible Banking Options

  • ATMs – Through our ATM network, you can withdraw cash, make cash and check deposits, check account balances, complete account transfers and more. We suggest that you use gloves or other personal protective measures to limit your direct contact with the ATM pin-pad.
  • Mobile Banking App – Through our mobile app, you can make transfers between your accounts, pay bills, deposit checks and more.
  • Online & Telephone Banking – Through our online banking platform you can check your account balances, make mortgage and loan payments, review transaction history, and send secure messages to our teams for account inquiries.
  • MyBanker Relationship Managers – Our MyBanker program offers personalized banking services available 7 days a week for your convenience. You can connect with our MyBanker team by visiting our website.

Lastly, we are providing some financial flexibility to our customers who may face financial hardship at this time, including:

Retail Banking, Consumer Loan and Mortgage Customers

  • You can continue to make your deposits through our night drops at either our Stockbridge Road or Sheffield office
  • Increased daily debit card spending limits
  • Waived penalties for early CD withdrawals up to $20,000
  • Option to forbear consumer and mortgage loan payments for one to three months

Small Business Customers

  • Increased daily debit card spending limits
  • Waived penalties for early CD withdrawals up to $20,000
  • Ability to leverage specific options for consideration to forebear their loan

To learn more about these enhancements, please visit our website. As always you can reach out by phone to your local branch or our call center at 800-773-5601. We appreciate your loyalty and patience during this unique time and will keep you informed of any changes in the coming weeks.

Be Kind. Be Calm. Be Smart. Be Well.

Tami Gunsch
SEVP, Director of Relationship Banking

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Kripalu closed until April 24, donates produce to food pantry

Stockbridge — We have been monitoring the news of coronavirus (COVID-19) carefully. Hearing the World Health Organization announcement of a global pandemic and Massachusetts issuing a state of emergency has caused us to take pause and reflect on how we want to handle this situation proactively.

While we have taken many precautions and thankfully have not yet identified the virus within our community (i.e., on campus), we feel it is our dharma to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for everyone we invite into our home.

We are temporarily closing.

  • It is in honoring our mission to hold the health and well-being of everyone that we have decided to cancel all programs at our retreat center in Stockbridge, MA for a six-week period, starting March 13.
  • Kripalu’s facilities will be closed from March 13 through April 24.
  • We anticipate that we will reopen on April 24 and will update you should that change.
  • All of our staff will remain on-site for as long as possible tending to and taking care of Kripalu for when we’re ready to reopen.
  • Our practices and teachings are needed more now than ever. Though our campus will be closed, we will still be accessible and leaning into our values: Presence, Inquiry, Compassion, Integrity, Practice, and Service.
  • Please visit our blog for content on how to build resilience during times of high vigilance, grounding meditation videos, and more.
  • Tune into our social platforms for daily reminders of well-being and equanimity—follow us on Facebook and Instagram for your dose of Kripalu love.
  • Stay informed via email, where we will give you periodic updates and inform you of any program changes.
  • Look forward to summer with us. Seasons are changing, and with that, so are our upcoming programs; click here to see what we’re excited about.

In the midst of COVID-19 chaos, organizations and businesses that are forced into temporary closure are making the most of the circumstances and using their limited resources to help the local Berkshires community. Once such organization is Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, the nation’s largest yoga retreat center located in Stockbridge.

While preparing for its temporary closure, Kripalu shared its stock of fresh produce with employees before donating the rest to The Community Food Pantry at South Congregational Church in Pittsfield. Here is a link to photos of the preparation process from Kripalu’s Executive Chef, Jeremy Rock Smith: https://www.instagram.com/p/B962_KVpB6R/

We realize that this is a difficult and unpredictable time, one that calls for all hearts on deck. While this wasn’t an easy decision to make, it was the only decision that prioritized you, our guests, our staff and our community. Your well-being is of utmost importance to us.

We will continuously evaluate and monitor the situation, and share pertinent information with our community as it becomes available. Feel free to check this page regularly for updates.

Kripalu Staff

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Construct Responds to Coronavirus

Great Barrington — In order for Construct to safely continue to meet the affordable housing needs of South Berkshire neighbors, staff will be working remotely. All Construct offices are closed effective 3/18/2020. Construct staff are available 24/7 by phone to help folks stay or become safely and affordably housed.

For over 50 years, through community support, Construct has been providing great places to live and a pathway to get there for thousands of South Berkshires neighbors. Through the recession in the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic, September 11th , the 2008 crash and personal crises our neighbors faced, Construct has been there.

“We cheered when Gov. Baker halted evictions and foreclosures until the Coronavirus crisis is over,” says Executive Director, Jane Ralph. “We want our own tenants and all others to remain safely housed –that’s Construct’s mission. Without rental payments, Construct will not be able to offset the costs of providing affordable housing. We will be severely challenged to offer the full range of services, maintenance and support needed to fulfill our vision to change and save lives through having a safe place to live.”

Construct provides access to housing, assistance with application processes, financial support for housing related crises and financial guidance to avoid them when possible. These core services continue at the numbers below:

Permanent Housing: Kathy Wiggins kwiggins@constructberkshire.org 413. 429.4348

Transitional Housing and Financial Assistance: Courtney Kimball ckimball@constructberkshire.org 413.429.4143

Housing Navigation Joshua Mack jmack@constructberkshire.org 413.429.4430

After hours support: 413.528.1985

“Construct is the best suited organization in the South Berkshires to provide rent, utilities, security deposits and other financial support because we help people navigate a sustainable path ahead.” Ralph added, “We are grateful for community partners who do their part to ensure health, public safety, food and other basic needs.”

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Berkshire United Way and Berkshire Taconic launch COVID-19 emergency response fund

Pittsfield and Sheffield — Berkshire United Way and Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation have established the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County to rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations as they respond to the impact of the coronavirus in Berkshire County.

They have already committed over $600,000 for these efforts through a coalition of philanthropic organizations, businesses partners and generous individuals.

Grants will help fund frontline human services organizations that have deep roots in the community and strong experience working with vulnerable populations. These operating grants are designed to address gaps in services and increase capacity of organizations to meet basic needs of individuals and families.

“We are facing an unprecedented public health crisis and Berkshire United Way is working closely with Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and our philanthropic and business partners to make sure our local nonprofits have the capacity to support our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Candace Winkler, president and CEO of Berkshire United Way. “We are proud of the health care providers and human services organizations who are on the front line of this response and we want to make sure they have the resources and support to continue and expand their work.”

Early partners and funders include Adams Community Bank, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures, Berkshire Bank Foundation, Donald C. McGraw Foundation/Blackrock Foundation Fund, Feigenbaum Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Joseph H. and Carol F. Reich Fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Josephine and Louise Crane Foundation, Mill Town, Northern Berkshire United Way, Unistress, Williams College and Williamstown Community Chest. The partners encourage other institutions, companies and funders to contribute to the fund.

“While the outbreak in Berkshire County is just beginning, we know that it threatens our neighbors who are already vulnerable and unprepared for its impact,” said Peter Taylor, president of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. “This fund will give an important boost to organizations meeting basic needs and caring for community members every day during unprecedented times.”

Donations to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund can be made at BerkshireUnitedWay.org/donate. Nonprofits can request funds through a simple, rolling application process that can be found at BerkshireUnitedWay.org.

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No. Six Depot Roastery and Cafe: The new reality

We are so sorry for everyone who is suffering in this crisis. Our industry is hit very hard as are its workers–many of whom can least afford it. We are trying to make take-out a safe option to both keep our staff employed and serve our customers.

You can come from 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. for take-out only of coffee bags, hot and cold drinks, food from our menu to-go, tea, gift cards and local products from our shelves. To keep the transaction as safe as possible, we ask that you order and pay in advance here: https://my-site-104545-107301.square.site or call 413-232-0205. The whole Six Depot crew truly appreciates your support in this difficult time.

We are using the strictest CDC guidelines. The kitchen, coffee and pickup area is strictly defined and sanitized repeatedly throughout the day. There are no restrooms, no seating, and no congregation of people. This is an evolving situation so we will be communicating as things change and as we get better at this new reality. You can also order coffee through our site: sixdepot.com.

Please be safe and well, help where you can, ask for help if you need it, and love those around you. We will get through this.

Your friends,
No. Six Depot

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Directives on Egremont Town Operations and COVID-19

To protect town residents and employees during the coronavirus pandemic, the Egremont Selectboard has declared a state of emergency and implemented the following:

  • As of 3/18/2020 Town Hall is closed to the public until further notice. Staff will continue to work normal hours and are still available to assist you by phone, internet or by individually arranged appointment.
  • There are boxes outside all Town Hall doors to leave payments or paperwork.
  • All town hall offices can be reached at 413-528-0182. An updated message will prompt you to dial the appropriate extension. Free wi-fi hotspot is available in the Egremont Town Hall parking lot. Email addresses for all town offices are on the town’s webpage: egremont-ma.gov. If you are unable to find a particular email, use tegremont@egremont-ma.gov and it will be forwarded to the appropriate person.
  • The transfer station will remain open as usual; however the attendant will not assist you with your trash. The swap shop is closed effective immediately. The TS will suspend accepting construction-and-demolition waste, TVs, electronics and fluorescent light bulbs. Please plan accordingly.
  • The police and fire departments are available as always and will be working closely with Southern Berkshire Ambulance Squad on medical calls. Continue to call 911 if you are in need of emergency personnel.
  • All non-essential meetings of town boards, commissions are postponed until further notice with the exception of the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Health.
  • The Library is currently closed. Library director Lesliann Furcht monitors phone messages and can be reached via email at egrlibrary@egremont-ma.gov. E-books continue to be available.

During these turbulent times, your cooperation, understanding and patience is deeply appreciated. The Selectboard will continue to keep you updated with any changes, additions or suspension of any the directives as described above as it continues to monitor federal, state and local developments.

Be safe. Be well. And please support your neighbors.

Egremont Selectboard

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Barrington Stage cancels first production of season

To our BSC Community:

We want to acknowledge the very challenging and uncharted times we are living in. We hope that above all, you are staying safe and taking care of yourselves.

Some of our patrons have asked whether the 2020 season will go on as planned, and what our ticket policies are in response to the coronavirus.

We wish we could continue with our season uninterrupted; however, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the first production of our season, The Great Leap. We will now begin the season on June 18 with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics, by Nilo Cruz. This was not an easy decision, as it affects the many people who contribute to making our shows possible: our subscribers, our ticket holders, our donors, our artists, our actors and our craftspersons.

If you have already purchased tickets to The Great Leap, we ask that you please consider the following options:

  • exchanging your tickets for another 2020 production, or
  • donating your tickets and receiving a tax deduction for the total ticket value, or
  • receiving a credit equal to the amount of your purchase, valid through 2021.

We are also happy to refund any tickets already purchased for cancelled performances. As you can imagine, this unplanned loss of ticket revenue impacts the financial security of our theatre, and your support means the world to us.

At the present time, all other productions are planned to continue as scheduled. We hope there is no further need to contact you, but we will be in communication if there are any additional changes to our upcoming season. If any performances are postponed or cancelled, or you are unable to attend due to COVID-19, please consider the above options.

For our loyal passholders, please email any questions to BoxOffice@BarringtonStageCo.org or call 413.236.8888 to discuss how we may best accommodate you.

During times like these, it is helpful to remember the power of live theatre is to inspire, to educate, and to fill us with hope and joy. We look forward to returning to business as usual and what we do best at Barrington Stage Company, creating theatre experiences that engage and excite our audiences.

Stay safe — and take care,

Julianne Boyd
Artistic Director

Maggie LaMee
General Manager

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Autism Collaborative cancels awareness event

PITTSFIELD —  April is Autism Awareness month, celebrated globally with various campaigns. The goal of the Berkshire County-based campaign is to heighten awareness of services available to individuals and families impacted by Autism and to educate, celebrate, and empower those with Autism.

The local campaign is a joint effort of agencies who are part of the Autism Collaborative of Berkshire County. The Autism Collaborative of Berkshire County is a group of local Autism service providers and agencies working together to educate, advocate and raise awareness of the services available in our community to families.

These providers include: AdLib, Autism Connections, Berkshire County Arc, BFAIR, College Internship Program, Hillcrest Educational Foundation, Positive Behavior Supports, and United Cerebral Palsy of Western MA. Downtown Pittsfield, Inc. is supporting downtown businesses in their efforts to join the fold and working alongside the Collaborative in this initiative.

In view of widespread concern about the COVID-19 virus and uncertainties surrounding the extent of its spread and its potential impact, we are cancelling/postponing all autism awareness events. Please continue to check your email and the ACBC Facebook page, as well as collaborating agencies, for continuous updates regarding our events.
For more information contact Katrina Cardillo at BFAIR at 413-464-7232 ext. 317 or kcardillo@bfair.org.

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Berkshire Humane Society Curtails Operations for COVID-19

To help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Berkshire Humane Society has scaled back operations until further notice. “We realize that this is an inconvenience, but the health and safety of the public, our staff and volunteers and the animals in our care is our priority,” said John Perreault, Executive Director of Berkshire Humane Society.

Berkshire Humane Society facilities are closed to the public, but people can adopt or surrender pets at the main shelter at 214 Barker Road in Pittsfield by appointment. Call 413-447-7878 to set up a time.

“With measures being carried out in the Berkshires to slow spread of the virus, more community members may face financial difficulty so we anticipate an increase in demand for our Pet Food Bankprogram,” said Perreault. “Also, if people are hospitalized with the virus, we may see an increase in need for our SafePet program.”

Just as demand for these community programs increases, cash flow to Berkshire Humane Society has decreased due to closing Catwalk Boutique resale stores in Lenox and Great Barrington and cancellation of several fund-raising events. “We realize that some people may not be able to donate to us now,” said Perreault, “but if they can, we’d be grateful for their gift so we can continue to help others in these uncertain times.”

Here’s a summary of current operations. Please check the Berkshire Humane Society website or Facebook page or call 413-447-7878 for updates.

  • Berkshire Humane Society shelters are closed to the public. The main shelter at 214 Barker Road in Pittsfield is staffed at reduced levels. Purradise, the satellite cat adoption facility in Great Barrington, is closed until further notice. All cats there have been moved to the main shelter.
  • Adoptions and surrenders will be by appointment only. You can still surrender a pet or come to see a pet you’d like to adopt at the main shelter, but you must make an appointment by calling 413-447-7878. Adoptions are not available through Purradise. Extra precautions are being taken at the main shelter to protect people during appointments.
  • Cat boarding is available at the main shelter. Please call 413-447-7878 extension 124.
  • The Pet Food Bank and SafePet programs are still available. Pet Food Bank recipients should call 413-447-7878 for an appointment. The SafePet program is available for owners of pets through Participating Partners.
  • Medical care to shelter animals, including spay and neuter surgeries will continue.
  • Low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for cats are still available to the public. Please call 413-447-7878 extension 124.
  • Family Dog School is closed. Call 413-447-7878 for information.
  • Education programs are on hold: All meetings of Humane Heroes and Defenders are cancelled until further notice as are tours and community programs.
  • Volunteer opportunities are reduced. Front desk and non-essential volunteer positions have been temporality eliminated. Some volunteer duties not requiring contact with the public continue to be staffed by volunteers who are comfortable doing so after being briefed on measures to protect themselves from the virus.
  • Catwalk Boutiques are closed: Berkshire Humane Society resale shops in Lenox and Great Barrington are closed. Check the Catwalk Boutique website https://catwalkboutique.org/ or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CatwalkResaleBoutique/ for updates.
  • Events through April are postponed. This includes Cat and Dog Film Festivals in Williamstown, now postponed to May 16 and 17 and the April 7th Cause for Paws radiothon and April 9th Lasagna Dinner at Crissey Farm in Great Barrington, which will both be rescheduled at a later date. The Humane Race, which had been slated for May 9, will also be rescheduled to a later date.

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Update from The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home

Dear Friends,

Like you, we are doing our best to stay up-to-date and in compliance with recommendations and precautions from local and state health officials. As of March 16, The Mount has canceled all public events through May 8. Our hope is to announce new dates for these events in the near future. At this point, we are still planning to open for the 2020 season on Saturday, May 9. We are closely watching this situation and will make any necessary adjustments to keep our community safe.

You can stay up to date on all Mount related news, including some suggested reading lists, on our social media channels. Follow us @themountlenox on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We will also be updating our website on a regular basis.

Our grounds will continue to be open, free-of-charge, from dawn to dusk. We encourage those who can to get outdoors and enjoy these longer days.

On a more personal note, if you or anyone you know is in need of assistance, please reach out to us so we can help connect you to the appropriate resources.

We look forward to being open again and welcoming everyone back to The Mount. Stay safe, be well, and practice your social distancing!

All my best,
Susan Wissle

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Brien Center adjusts protocols

Pittsfield – The Brien Center today announced temporary modifications to how the agency will continue providing care to its clients during the coronavirus outbreak.

“With confirmed cases of the virus in Berkshire County, the Brien Center is following recommendations provided by the state Department of Public Health and the CDC to protect our clients and staff,” said M. Christine Macbeth, ACSW, LICSW, President and CEO of the Brien Center.

Macbeth said the following modification are in place:

  • With very few exceptions, client visits will take place by phone. Clients will receive a call from their Brien clinician at the time of their scheduled appointment or be notified if the appointment will be in person.
  • All outreach home visits will be done by phone. Clients will receive a call at the time of your scheduled appointment.
  • All group sessions have been suspended until further notice.
  • The Adult Day Health Program has been suspended until further notice.
  • All residential programs remain open and fully staffed.
  • The Emergency Services Program continues to operate from its community location at 66 West St. and will do crisis assessments by phone unless the situation requires personal intervention by a member of the Crisis Team.
  • A member of the Crisis Team will continue to accompany police in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington on behavioral health emergency calls.

Macbeth advised calling the Brien Center at 413-499-0412 with any questions.

“Like everyone in our community, we hope to be back to our regular business as soon as it is safe to do so,” she said. “In the meantime, we ask everyone to please do their very best to stay safe.”

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Latest update on Sheffield Senior Center and COVID–19

March 17, 2020
Dear Sheffield Residents:

Due to the public safety concerns to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the Sheffield Senior Center will be closed to all activities beginning Tuesday, March 17, through March 30. The Senior Center office will be open to take calls and offer assistance. The office can be reached at 413-229-7037.

Transportation
The senior van will be operating. Van rides will be confirmed each day for medical appointments, Food Pantry shopping, and necessary services.

Community Meals
Are being replaced with Take ‘N Eat meals. Please call the Senior Center to reserve a Take ‘N Eat meals and to discuss delivery options. There is still a $2 voluntary donation.

Meals on Wheels
Will continue to deliver home-delivered meals.

Other ways to obtain groceries
Use InstaCart, which is an online grocery delivery service. Please contact your local restaurants to inquire about take-out meals.

Other Information
Berkshire Health Systems has established a toll-free hotline for questions regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). It is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Call 855-BMC-LINK, or 855-262-5465.

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SBRSD to offer free grab-and-go lunches

The Southern Berkshire Regional School District will be offering free grab-and-go meals to families in the communities with children 18 and under. We will be serving at the Undermountain Elementary Campus in Sheffield from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. People interested can either email meals@sbrsd.org or call 413-248-0727.

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A note to Plaza Package customers on the COVID-19 crisis

March 16, 2020
We are closely monitoring the real-time developments of the COVID-19 crisis and following the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. We have made some changes to our business for the health and well-being of our staff and customers.

  • At this time our store remains open to customers
  • We have temporarily closed our redemption center.
  • We have ramped up our disinfecting. All commonly use surfaces will be disinfected hourly.
  • We are offering free delivery through April 30 to help limit interaction.
  • We are now offering curbside pick-up. Give us a call or download our app to place your order, then call us when you get here. We will bring your product directly to your car.
  • All in-store tastings are canceled.
  • All of our sales people and winery and brew reps have been instructed to email or call instead of coming in.
  • No public restrooms will be available there are no exceptions to this.

This is a fluid situation. Check back frequently for updates. We think all of our customers for their cooperation and understanding at this difficult time. Stay safe

Jennifer Andersen

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An update on Guido’s and COVID-19

MARCH 17, 2020

Dear Guido’s Customers,

We first want to thank you for all your support and patience over the last week. In times like this, we are reminded of the kindness and strength of our community, and we are so grateful. We’re also working to support our amazing staff as they show up day after day to keep the shelves stocked and stores running for the community.

Please know that we have plenty of food in the stores, and we have trucks coming daily to deliver both fresh and pantry items. There are certainly holes in the shelves here and there, but we are restocking daily. We also know that it can be hard to maintain distance in the stores, but we appreciate all you can do to give as much space to others as you shop.

Please note the following operational changes to continue to best support the health and safety of our customers, staff, and community.

Please know that our stores are well-staffed, stocked to the best of our ability based on product supplies, and our business hours will remain the same. We cannot offer delivery at this time.

IN PITTSFIELD:
Café is closed to on-premise consumption of food and drink. The Cafe will remain open for take away service.

  • Our self-serve salad bar will convert to fresh, pre-packaged options daily.
  • Our self-serve hot soup station will no longer be available. Cold, pre-packaged soups will be available in our grab and go cases in a variety of options.
  • Our self-serve hot bar will convert to a variety of pre-packaged items – including cold/ready to heat meals and pre-made sandwiches & wraps. Breakfast sandwiches will be continued as a pre-packaged item.
  • Guido’s Kitchen hot prepared food items will be available as usual in the hot case near the pizza station.
  • Pizza available as usual. Individual slices are no longer self-serve, and will be served by staff.
  • Self-serve bakery items will be pre-packaged or served by staff.
  • La Grotta olives will no longer be self-serve and will be pre-packaged.
  • No personal containers are accepted at this time in the café or Guido’s Kitchen.

IN GREAT BARRINGTON:
The Marketplace specialty food’s self-serve hot soup station will no longer be available. Cold, pre-packaged soups will be available in our grab and go cases in a variety of options.

We will continue to monitor all COVID-19 directives and information put forth by national, state and local officials, and respond accordingly.

Thank you,
Chris and Matt Masiero
Co-owners

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COVID 19 updates from downtown Pittsfield Businesses

Announcement from Superintendent Jake McCandless:

The Pittsfield Public Schools, the City of Pittsfield, and our many community-based-partners are dedicated to the well being of our entire community. To that end, beginning Monday, March 16, the Pittsfield Public Schools will be providing once-a-day grab-and-go breakfast and lunch packages to children in our city. These nutritious grab-and-go food packages will be available between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at the following sites in the city:

  • Morningside Community School, 100 Burbank St.
  • Conte Community School, 200 West Union St.
  • Dower Square Housing Village, 253 Wahconah St.
  • The Berkshire Family YMCA, 292 North St.
  • Gladys Brigham Center, 165 East St.
  • Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires, 16 Melville St.
  • The Brattlebrook Apartments, April Lane.

We are grateful to our school nutrition and transportation professionals in the school district for making this possible. We are also grateful to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and to the Federal Department of Agriculture for making this vital service available.

Thank you to all the partners identified above for making this program for the community’s children possible.

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Message from Clark Art Institute

Dear Friends:

As we continue to assess the current conditions surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, we have made the decision to temporarily close our galleries and exhibitions to the public effective tomorrow, March 14.

The health of our entire community is of paramount importance and we feel that it is our civic responsibility to move swiftly to support public health initiatives to stem the spread of this disease. While we have been proactive in implementing numerous preventive measures as advised by federal, state, and local officials, we now feel that the most responsible action is to temporarily pause our normal operations.

Although there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus connected to the museum, we will use this hiatus period to continue our rigorous cleaning protocols and will assess all building systems to ensure peak effectiveness in maintaining a safe and healthy environment.

We will continue to monitor developments and will make a further announcement on April 1 regarding the duration of the closure. In the meantime, our beautiful campus and walking trails remain open and we hope you will find some pleasure in enjoying nature, fresh air, and the first signs of spring.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the Clark soon!

Olivier Meslay Hardymon
Director

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Berkshire Botanical Garden closed until April 15

To the members of the BBG community:

In light of the continuing coronavirus health situation, BBG has canceled all education classes, lectures, workshops and offsite visits, from Monday, March 16, until April 15. In addition, no other indoor events will be held at BBG during this period. Based on recent school closing announcements, BBG’s after school programs will likewise not run until further notice. We will continue to evaluate the health threat, and based on state and local guidance may extended the period of cancellations should this become necessary.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as BBG adapts to the challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak. Our highest priority is to keep our community safe

Sincerely,

Michael Beck
Executive Director

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Lee Library is closed (updated: quilt show postponed)

(Updated on March 19) Due to COVID-19, in the interest of public health and in light of the closure of the Lee public schools, the Lee Library is closed to the public and the quilt show scheduled for April will be postponed until November. We will reevaluate the situation next Saturday, March 21, as to whether to remain closed another week or more.

Late fees will be waived during this time as well as expiration dates for items on the hold shelves.

We regret that we need to close, but hopefully with everyone in the community working together to help prevent the spread of this virus, we can get back to our normal way of life more quickly.

Access our digital catalog for thousands of e-books and e-audio.

Please take care and stay well.

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Closure information for Hevreh of Southern Berkshire

Closure information for Hevreh of Southern Berkshire

We want to give you an updated about COVID-19 and its impact on our congregation and community.

For more detailed information, click here.

As of today, any gatherings at Hevreh–worship, classes, outside groups, committee meetings, and the like–are all suspended. The Mass Department of Public Health and local county health officials are recommending all non-essential public gatherings be postponed or canceled. In the spirit of pikuach nefesh, we have chosen to follow that recommendation, to do our part to curb the mitigation of this disease across our community.

The implications for this are broad, so please review the following sections for more information. Additionally, we will be posting daily updates on our website, with opportunities to attend classes, meetings, and discussions virtually, so make sure to check back later.

This was not an easy decision to come to. Speaking personally, this is affecting our lives, as we know it is affecting yours. In just a few week’s time we’ll be reading some of the most central words of our tradition–Love your neighbor as yourself. In the face of fear and uncertainty, what better time than this to continue to pour love out into our congregation and community. Please know we are sending you our love and care, and know you do as well.

Sincerely,
Rabbi Neil P.G. Hirsch
Rabbi Jodie Gordon
Rik Kabel, President

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MASS MoCA Galleries to close March 16-March 31

Dear Friends,

MASS MoCA museum galleries will close from March 16 to March 31. We will update our website with any changes to that plan.

Some events have been rescheduled.

  • The Teen Invitational has been postponed to May 29.
  • The Members Opening Reception for Ad Minoliti, Gamaliel Rodriguez (both on view now), and Kissing through a Curtain (all art on view beginning March 21) will now take place on May 23.

We have cancelled the following performances and events.

  • Treya Lam / March 14
  • Open Studios / March 20
  • Bill T. Jones / March 21
  • Roger C. Miller / March 28

Please stay in touch with us while the world reacts and responds to this public health crisis. Our social media channels and emails will bring you “only at MASS MoCA” art moments, art-making, virtual tours, and updates.

COVID-19 precautions have serious health and economic consequences, including to artists and arts organizations that experience significant financial hardship from cancelled shows and diminished attendance. (Cancelled shows incur lots of unrecoverable costs.)

Here are some ways you might help us to continue presenting and supporting new artists:

  • Donate your ticket purchase for a canceled show in support of MASS MoCA’s year-round performing arts program.
  • Exchange your ticket for a credit against a future show or museum admission.

If we do not hear from you regarding your purchase before the day of the event, we will automatically credit your account for a future purchase. If you’d like to convert your ticket to a donation, or discuss a refund, please call or email: 413.662.2111 x1 / boxoffice@massmoca.org.

Here are some other ways you can support MASS MoCA and our home region during this time:

  • Become a MASS MoCA member.
  • Plan your next family wedding or corporate event here.
  • Order take out food and drink from the many businesses on the MASS MoCA campus and in downtown North Adams — Lickety Split, our museum cafe, is open from 9am-3pm Monday through Friday, and is offering local delivery. (413.346.4560)
  • Purchase a gift certificate now for later use from MASS MoCA, the museum store, or other restaurants, shops, and services on our campus and around North Adams.
  • Give yourself something to look forward to — tickets to the FreshGrass Festival in September are available now.

We will keep this page updated regarding any programming changes. We thank you for your continued support.

Further information about COVID-19 is available here: CDC resources.

Please stay in touch (but don’t touch!),

Your friends at MASS MoCA

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Crandell Theatre Closing through Thursday, April 16

While there are no known cases of COVID-19 at the Crandell Theatre or in the region, out of caution and with particular concern for at-risk groups and the overall health of our community, Crandell Theatre will close on Monday, March 16 through Thursday, April 16. The reopening on Friday, April 17, will be subject to then-current public health information. All scheduled programming during this time is canceled.

This decision has been reached by the board of directors after much deliberation and in acknowledgement of the Crandell’s role as the “living room” of the community. Despite having recently implemented increased sanitation and other precautionary measures, we believe that the best course of action is a temporary closure as many other theatres are doing. For the next two weeks, all theatre employees will continue to receive full pay and benefits.

We hope to continue to compensate staff for the full closing. As a community-based, not-for-profit, only half of the Crandell’s revenue comes from the box office. In order to successfully go through this crisis, we need your help through your membership or contribution.

We all look forward to the reopening of the Crandell and encourage you to stay updated through the website, crandelltheatre.org. While this is a hard time, we are confident that this is a time that we will all look back upon with satisfaction that we did what we could to keep our community safe.

Sincerely,

Lydia Kukoff, President
Crandell Theatre Board of Directors

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Coronavirus update from Salisbury Bank and its Riverside Division

Lakeville, Conn. — Amid ongoing concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are closely monitoring the latest reports from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and State Officials. We want to keep you updated on the steps we are taking to keep our employees, customers, and the communities we serve, safe and healthy. Rest assured, we are doing everything we can to be prepared to respond to situations that could occur due to the outbreak.

If you’ve been impacted by COVID-19 and need our support, we’re here to help. We always strive to work constructively with customers who have financial difficulties. Please reach out to your personal banker or customer support at 860.596.2444 to discuss your options.

Preventative programs are in place to reduce the likelihood that our operations would be significantly affected including monitoring of reported outbreaks and employee populations to reduce exposure to staff and customers. We have encouraged customers to use our online tools, bank-by-phone, night depositories and drive-up tellers for their banking needs.

The best way for you to stay informed with latest updates is by visiting our site at salisburybank.com.

Salisbury Bank is a full-service community bank headquartered in Lakeville, Connecticut and presently operates full service branches in Canaan, Lakeville, Salisbury, and Sharon, Connecticut; Great Barrington, Sheffield, and South Egremont, Massachusetts; as well as Dover Plains, Fishkill, Millerton, New Paltz, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and Red Oaks Mill, New York.

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Message from Volunteers in Medicine (VIM)

Dear Friends:

VIM is working hard 1) to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus by social distancing and 2) to keep people out of hospitals and emergency rooms. Here are the steps we are taking to help our patients philanthropically while adjusting our operations for the health and safety of our patients, volunteers and staff:

Philanthropic Response
Even under normal circumstances, this is a difficult financial time of year for our patients. Many of them, because they work in landscaping, hospitality and other service industries, are out of work during the winter. With the indefinite closing of restaurants and cultural institutions and with tourism grinding to a halt, our patients are at greater risk than ever.

VIM is quickly mobilizing to expand the support we already provide patients to help with rent, heat, food, childcare and other underlying social determinants of health. If you are looking for a way to make a difference in your community as we work through this crisis, we hope you will consider making a special donation to support our patients. Thank you.

Operational Response
For the next two weeks, we are seeing only those patients who have medical or dental conditions likely to progress to the point of an ER visit. Patients who remain on the schedule will be seen by staff members only. In these cases, we will make triage calls prior to each patient’s visit, based on a script provided by Berkshire Health Systems, to screen for possible coronavirus. If, based on the triage, we think someone might have the virus, we will instruct them to call the hospital directly instead of coming to our clinic. Behavioral health appointments will continue as needed by telephone or Skype. And, we are encouraging staff members who can to work from home.

We will continue to follow the situation closely and will adapt our plans as needed.

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Triplex Cinema to close through at least April 9

To Our Valued Guests:

We wanted to take a minute to check in with you all regarding the current COVID-19 situation.

As you may be aware Governor Baker has banned all gatherings of 25 people or more and halted the service of on-premises food and beverages through April 5, 2020.

Here at the Triplex Cinema we have always strived to be a community theater. Our purpose over the years has been to bring together our community and provide a place where people can gather, relax, and escape from the hassles of daily life, if only for an hour or two at a time.

It is with a heavy heart and the community’s best interests in mind that effective today, Monday March 16, 2020, the Triplex Cinema will be temporarily closing through at least Thursday April 9. We will be re-evaluating our closure as the situation continues to unfold and plan reopening as soon as is reasonable given the situation. Our March 31, 2020 showing of In Search Of Haydn will be postponed, but we hope to reschedule as soon as we are able to, for any assistance with refunds or exchanges please either email us or stop by the theater once we re-open.

During this time we will not be disappearing altogether. Please keep in touch with us via our Facebook & Twitter pages and our weekly newsletter for updates. Stay safe and be well!

– Triplex Management & Staff

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Berkshire Museum to close for two weeks  to combat community spread of COVID-19

Pittsfield — In an effort to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus within the community, Berkshire Museum will close its doors for two weeks effective Saturday, March 14, through Sunday, March 29. All events and programming will be suspended during this time. Museum staff will continue to monitor conditions in the region during this period and will determine whether an earlier or later re-opening is appropriate.

The decision to temporarily close the Museum’s doors was made Friday based on assessment of new state guidance issued to schools, the closure of cultural organizations nationally and in the region, and our aim to help limit the spread of the virus within our community.

“While community organizations like our museum have not yet been directed to close to the public, we have chosen to heed recommendations regarding ‘social distancing’ as a means of preventing the spread of illness,” said Berkshire Museum Executive Director Jeff Rodgers. “Our primary goal is to protect the health of our visitors, our staff, and our community. And I believe closing our doors for a short period is the most responsible course of action we can take to achieve it.”

During the planned closure, Berkshire Museum’s staff will continue to work: preparing for upcoming projects, creating web-based Museum experiences for students, teachers, and families, and providing daily care of the animals in our Aquarium. Information about online programming will follow in the coming days.

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BCC suspends face-to-face courses for March 23-27, classes to be held remotely that week

Pittsfield — Berkshire Community College (BCC) President Ellen Kennedy announced today that the College is taking additional preemptive measures in response to COVID-19 to protect the health and safety of the campus community. In order for the College to limit potential future exposure, it has made the decision to implement policies and practices that promote social distancing including:

  • Face-to-face courses, the face-to-face component of hybrid courses, and labs will be suspended during the week of March 23-27 (the week after spring break);
  • Online courses and the online portions of hybrid courses will continue as scheduled on March 23 without interruption;
  • Students who are registered for an eight-week course that is scheduled to begin on March 23 will hear directly from your instructor; and
  • At this time, the schedule for finals will remain the same.

All BCC offices and buildings will remain open and student support services will continue to be available. The college is not alone in making this decision, as community colleges across the state have implemented similar strategies in an effort to promote social distancing, and allow faculty to explore additional ways to teach their courses.

“This is a state-wide effort,” Kennedy said. “We will use that week after spring break to continue to plan and prepare for minimizing the risk that this outbreak presents. The safety and wellbeing of our campus and broader Berkshire community is our primary concern.”

The college has canceled some events that draw large numbers of people. A Continuation of Operations Planning (COOP) group made up of academic, enrollment, student affairs, human rResource, security, facilities, finance, and communications from the college are meeting daily to prepare and plan for any eventuality and are monitoring this quickly changing situation.

More information is available on the BCC website at berkshirecc.edu.

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Alford town offices closed to the public through April 3

Town offices will be closed to the public through April 3, 2020. The Select Board Secretary will continue to work Monday through Thursday from 8:00am to 1:00pm as usual. In the meantime you can reach all of our departments via the Contact Directory here on the town’s website, or…

Payments, printed forms and documents can be mailed or left in the drop box attached to the Town office building. You can also…

 

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Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives closed until March 30

Dear Library Patrons,

After careful consideration and in keeping with precautions being taken throughout the state, the nation, and the world, The Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives will be closed from March 17 through March 30, 2020 in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

We know how important the library is to our community and don’t take this decision lightly. However, we feel this is the responsible decision at this time.

Please continue to use our e-library and stay connected with Facebook and Instagram!

Warmest regards,

Wendy Pearson

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Update on town of Sheffield actions in response to COVID–19

March 16, 2020

Dear Sheffield Residents:

Your Board of Selectmen took several actions today to help ensure the health of our community
and employees and reduce the spread of the coronavirus. They are:

  • We have declared a State of Emergency in the Town of Sheffield on COVID-19 to best
    prepare for what may lie ahead and to have access to FEMA, MEMA and other
    resources.
  • Town Hall will be closed to the public beginning Tuesday, March 17th through March
    30th; this may be extended. However employees will be working normal hours and
    there to take your phone calls, meet with you by appointment if needed and process
    Town business. All Town Hall offices may be reached at 229-7000, press 1 and the
    extension you need:

Town Clerk x151
Town Administrator/BOS x152
Treasurer/Tax Collector x153
Assessors x155
Bldg Inspector/Zoning Enforcement Officer x156
Board of Health, ZBA, Planning Board & Conservation Commission x157

Please consider using online payments. Or the drop box outside of Town Hall, in addition to regular mail. If using the drop box, please clearly indicate the department on your envelope.

  • The Transfer Station will be open as usual; attendants have been asked not to assist you.
  • The Police Station lobby is open as usual.
  • The Fire Department is available as always and will be working closely with Southern Berkshire Ambulance Squad and our Police Department on medical calls.
  • You may take your 2020US Census at my2020census.gov or by filling out your paper census; all Sheffield Census Access Centers are closed for now.
  • The Highway Department will be working a normal schedule.
  • The Board of Health will be assisting the Governor in implementing his State of Emergency regulations regarding restaurants and eat-in food services.
  • The Bushnell Sage Library will be closed, effectively immediately through March 30th; this closing may be extended. See the Library website: bushnellsagelibrary.org.
  • We will know the status of the Senior Center tomorrow and update you.
  • We encourage you to practice social distancing and limit your errands & interactions to
    those which are necessary.
  • We will keep you informed in the days ahead and thank you all for your understanding
    and patience. Up-to-date information will be posted on the Town’s website: sheffieldma.gov

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COVID-19 Update from Gedney Farm 03.15.20

Yesterday, we notified you of our decision to close the restaurant for two weeks. Later that same evening, Gov. Charlie Baker released a state order requiring that all restaurants and bars to close for on- premise consumption and prohibiting all gatherings of 25 persons or more until Monday, April 6 OR until further notice:

  • We are therefore closing our hotel & restaurant until Monday, April 6.
  • Our restaurant service will resume its normal Wednesday-Friday dinner service starting on Wednesday, April 8.
  • We will resume our special regional-themed dinner events starting Saturday, April 11, and will tentatively plan to continue these special dinners through May 9

At Gedney Farm we remain committed to creating an environment for our customers and a workplace for our employees that adjusts to the new reality of operating safely and responsibly in face of the associated risks from COVID-19.

We would like to assure all clients and staff that Gedney Farm has proactively implemented policies and procedures that protect the health and wellbeing of everyone who visits or works at our property. A description of the specific policies and procedures that we have implemented our available for you to see on our website: gedneyfarm.com/coronavirus/

We also recognize the importance of taking action; and we believe that, at this time, each of us individually and organizationally can and must take concrete steps, however small, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within our communities and reduce its impact.

We are trying to keep as well informed as possible. We refer to the following website for the most credible and up-to-date information about the status of the coronavirus in our area: mass.gov/orgs/department-of-public-health

All of these new procedures and precautions notwithstanding, our team is nonetheless eager and enthusiastic about the upcoming season, and we all look forward to welcoming you back to Gedney Farm when we re-open, and allowing you to fully appreciate our hospitality and service.

Michael Smith – Peter Miscikoski & the Gedney Farm Team

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Domaney’s new store hours effective immediately

We care deeply about the safety and health of our customers and staff. Due to current events, we will be shortening our business hours. Starting Today, March 16, we will be open daily from 12 noon – 6 p.m. until further notice.

Also effective immediately, we will no longer be taking empties until further notice.

We are closely monitoring the developments of the COVID-19 crisis and following the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization.

We will continue to provide updates via email, our website and the social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

We wish all of you the best of health during these hard times.

– The Domaney Family

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Lenox Library closed to the public effective March 17

Lenox — In keeping with recommended precautions regarding COVID-19 and Gov. Charlie Baker’s directive announced March 15, 2020, prohibiting gatherings of 25 or more, the Lenox Library will be closed to the public until further notice.

In a letter to patrons, Library Director Katherine O’Neil wrote,

“This is an unprecedented time both for our community and for the wider world as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. As information professionals, we’re committed to bringing you helpful and accurate information in times like these. By sharing resources with you, we hope you’ll feel empowered to protect yourselves and those around you who are more vulnerable to this virus. As your friends and neighbors, we also understand that you may feel uncertain, anxious, or lonely as we adopt the necessary social distancing measures. Know that we are here to help with that, too. Staff will be onsite to answer your questions via phone (413-637-0197) or email, and we will continue to post updated information on our website lenoxlibrary.org and Facebook, connecting you to online resources so you still can enjoy the Library from home.

In cooperation with other C/WMARS libraries, we are happy to offer additional renewals on library items by phone, but rest assured that no overdue fines will be charged for materials due during this time. We encourage you to keep library items at home until further notice.

We are fortunate to work and live in a town where people care for and support one another, and in that way, this time is no different than any other. As a part of this community, we hope that the Library can continue to be what Andrew Carnegie, library champion and former owner of Shadow Brook (now Kripalu), called ‘a never failing spring in the desert,’ providing reassurance and a sense of connectedness among us all.”

For more information, please call the library at 413-637-0197 or visit the library’s website at lenoxlib.org or Facebook page.

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Help the People’s Pantry feed our neighbors

Great Barrington — Due to the current coronavirus situation many of our neighbors have lost their jobs and have an increased need for food assistance. This past Thursday, The People’s Pantry served a record number of NEW shoppers in addition to the 50-80 families who already depend on us. These new shoppers are South County residents who never needed our help before but do now.

The People’s Pantry is being stretched thin as we provide families with more food than usual in case they cannot come to or we cannot open the Pantry in the days and weeks ahead. None of us know where this pandemic will lead us, but we all know that it is those in need who are likely to suffer most. Just picture mom and dad out of work and the children not receiving lunch at school.

Please help! Visit our website at thepeoplespantrygb.org to find both a list of staple foods we distribute and a PayPal donation button. The Pantry will be open to accept food donations on Mondays, from 8-9 a.m. and 4-6 a.m. and Thursdays, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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Gov. Baker orders school closed for three weeks, no gatherings of over 25, all dine-in-only restaurants and bars to close for a month

Boston — Schools in Massachusetts will close for at least three weeks, and all gatherings of more than 25 people will be banned in the latest attempt to arrest the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Sunday.

The governor also ordered all dine-in restaurants and bars to close for a month. Take-away and delivery services won’t be affected by the rules, nor will grocery stores or pharmacies.

Read more at Boston.com.

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COVID-19 Update from Gedney Farm 03.15.20

At Gedney Farm we remain committed to creating an environment for our customers and a workplace for our employees that adjusts to the new reality of operating safely and responsibly in face of the associated risks from COVID-19.

We would like to assure all clients and staff that Gedney Farm has proactively implemented policies and procedures that protect the health and wellbeing of everyone who visits or works at our property. A description of the specific policies and procedures that we have implemented our available for you to see on our website at gedneyfarm.com/coronavirus/

We also recognize the importance of taking action; and we believe that, at this time, each of us individually and organizationally can and must take concrete steps, however small, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within our communities and reduce its impact.

To this end we are doing the following:

We are closing our restaurant and hotel for two weeks starting Sunday, March 15, so that our customers and our employees may remain safe at home with their families. We currently plan to reopen on Monday, March 23.

As owners, we are trying to keep as well informed as possible. We refer to the following website for the most credible and up-to-date information about the status of the coronavirus in our area: mass.gov/orgs/department-of-public-health.

All of these new procedures and precautions notwithstanding, our team is nonetheless eager and enthusiastic about the upcoming season, and we all look forward to welcoming you back to Gedney Farm when we re-open, and allowing you to fully appreciate our hospitality and service.

Michael Smith & Peter Miscikoski
Owners

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Other recent updates posted previously on The Edge:

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Pignatelli urges action on Western Mass. Local Cable Access During COVID-19

Below is a copy of an email that state Rep. Smitty Pignatelli sent yesterday, March 14, to members of the Massachusetts federal delegation requesting that action be taken to override or modify the Federal Communication Commission (FCC)’s Massachusetts Designated Market Area (DMA) regulations to provide the Berkshires and other Western Massachusetts communities access to local Massachusetts news in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak:

State Rep. William ‘Smitty’ Pignatelli. Photo: Ben Hillman

Sens. Markey, Warren, and Congressman Neal,

I write to you today to implore that federal action be taken to override or modify the Federal Communication Commission (FCC)’s Massachusetts Designated Market Area (DMA) regulations to provide the Berkshires and other Western Massachusetts communities access to local Massachusetts news in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Governor Baker declared a state of emergency earlier this week in response to the Coronavirus. The most recent reports as of yesterday have total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Commonwealth at 18. Further, there are 123 confirmed and presumptive positive cases to the virus, nine of which are confirmed to be in Berkshire County. Despite this, most communities in the Berkshires and throughout Western Massachusetts are still limited in their ability to access local Massachusetts news stations.

I want to thank you for your continued efforts to expand rural broadband in Western Massachusetts, particularly the most recent FCC authorization to increase broadband funding for rural homes and businesses, but our communities need broadband now more than ever. Areas of Western Massachusetts are already suffering from a limited marker of providers in the region, the last thing these communities need is a lack of knowledge and access to the Commonwealth’s ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

To put it simply: broadband equals opportunity. We cannot deny our citizens the ability to stay safe in times of crisis.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (413)-637-0015.

Sincerely,
Smitty Pignatelli
State Representative, Fourth Berkshire District

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Berkshire Botanical Garden suspends classes, workshops

Stockbridge – Berkshire Botanical Garden Executive Director Michael Beck has announced the cancellation of classes and events from Monday, March 16 until April 15.

“In light of the continuing coronavirus health situation, BBG has canceled all education classes, lectures, workshops and off-site visits,” Beck announced in a message to the BBG community. “In addition, no other indoor events will be held at BBG during this period. Based on recent school closing announcements, BBG’s after-school programs will likewise not run until further notice. We will continue to evaluate the health threat, and based on state and local guidance may extend the period of cancellations should this become necessary.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding as BBG adapts to the challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak. Our highest priority is to keep our community safe.”

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Berkshire District Attorney’s office closed to public during pandemic

Pittsfield — The following statement was issued Saturday afternoon (March 14) by the District Attorney’s office:

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office (BDAO) recommits to contributing to a culture of civility and consideration in the community that we serve.

Public safety is, as always, our priority. We will continue to work in partnership with state and local police to enforce the law, protect victims and the community from dangerous individuals, respect due process rights, and provide avenues to meaningful support for those who are struggling.

We are mindful of our most vulnerable citizens whose access to help may be further limited during this period of social isolation. The Victim Advocates at the BDAO are available to provide safety planning and to help victims of crime access tools for their own empowerment. We encourage victims in isolation to contact local law enforcement for help.

The following hotlines are also available to provide safety and support to victims of crime:

  • Berkshire District Attorney’s Office: 413-443-5951.
  • Report Child Abuse to the Department of Children and Families emergency line at 800-792-5200.
  • The Brien Center is available for mental health and substance use crisis at 800-252-0227.
  • Elizabeth Freeman Center and the national domestic violence hotlines are available at 866-401-2425.
  • The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 888-373-7888.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.
  • The Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission at 800-426-9009.
  • The Massachusetts Elder Abuse Hotline at 800-922-2275.

The BDAO has implemented internal protocols limiting interaction between staff members and with non-staff members in order to protect employees, prevent the spread of illness in the community and ensure that our entire staff does not become subjected to quarantine.

The office will be closed to all non-BDAO staff members. Any necessary meetings or interviews will be held via teleconference or at outside locations.

District Attorney Andrea Harrington is working with local and state law enforcement to ensure law and order while limiting opportunities for the virus to spread.

BDAO will file motions to continue all pre-trial matters. No new jurors will be called through April 21, 2020 per order of the Supreme Judicial Court. Assistant District Attorneys will be available to handle arraignments, warrants, dangerousness hearings, and other immediate needs in order to protect the public and ensure due process rights.

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Baker-Polito Administration Announces New Clinical Protocols for COVID-19 Testing

 Updated protocols will expedite testing for patients with a range of symptoms and conditions as well as health care workers and emergency responders

–  MassHealth issues guidance to providers to ensure access to treatment including telehealth

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, in Great Barrington Town Hall in 2015. Edge photo: Heather Bellow

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration continues to take action to expedite COVID-19 testing and ensure access to treatment, according to a statement released by the governor’s office on Saturday.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) and MassHealth released guidance related to access to clinical testing and care, respectively, in response to COVID-19.

This announcement was made this morning, March 14, at a press conference where Governor Baker announced the creation of a new COVID-19 Response Command Center.

Under DPH’s new clinical guidance, clinicians no longer need to receive testing approval from the State Lab prior to submitting specimens for patients that meet the following specific criteria:

  • Symptomatic health care workers and emergency medical services personnel who have worked while sick
  • Hospitalized individuals suspected of having COVID-19 infection
  • Individuals who have had close contact with a someone with confirmed COVID-19 while symptomatic in congregate settings and clusters of acute respiratory illness in congregate settings
  • Those with symptoms linked to recent travel to high-risk countries

For patients who do not meet these criteria, clinicians will continue to follow the existing protocols – call the EPI line to gain testing approval and then submit specimens to the State Lab.

Additional changes to procedures include that clinicians only need to collect one specimen type for testing at both the State Lab and commercial labs. This change was based on new CDC guidance that now requires one nasal swab instead of two. As clinicians change their practice and follow the new guidance, this change will allow more individuals to be tested.

Clinicians can also send specimens from suspected COVID-19 patients without approval from DPH to commercial labs that received federal approval to conduct COVID-19 testing.

The Department of Public Health will be releasing the number of people tested for COVID-19 in Massachusetts Beginning on Wednesday, March 18. Updated numbers will be provided weekly by 12pm on mass.gov/COVID19. This is in additional to daily case updates posted online at 4pm.

MassHealth – Massachusetts’ Medicaid program – released new policies to provide guidance and clarification for MassHealth plans to ensure access to care in response to COVID-19. These policies expand telehealth coverage, allow 90-day refills of prescriptions and early refills, make billing for COVID-19 tests easier for providers, and remind providers that there are no copays for lab tests and pharmacies that they cannot deny medications if a member cannot pay.  This announcement follows other focused efforts by Massachusetts to ensure that residents can access coverage for testing and treatment for COVID-19, including the Massachusetts Health Connector announced a special enrollment period to ensure everyone who wants access to covered coronavirus services has it, and the Division of Insurance announced that Massachusetts health insurers are now required to cover the cost of testing and treatment for members who may be affected by the  COVID-19.

The public is reminded that real-time COVID-19 information, resources, and referrals in multiple languages can be found by calling Massachusetts 2-1-1. Callers dialing 2-1-1 will hear an automated menu of options. Callers press 2-6 for coronavirus. Residents can also reach 2-1-1 through a live chat option on the Massachusetts 2-1-1 website. Through this partnership with Massachusetts 2-1-1 announced yesterday, DPH subject matter experts are expanding access to information 24/7, and empowering call operators to provide the latest information about prevention, symptoms, and treatment, information about testing, and guidance for travel.  This new service is in addition to a dedicated site mass.gov/COVID19, which is updated daily with information and resources.

Governor Charlie Baker declared a State of Emergency to support the Commonwealth’s response to coronavirus. The Administration has updated guidance to the general public, specifically urging older adults and those with health issues to avoid large crowds and events. The Administration also released new policies to protect individuals in long-term care facilities, and those served in community-based and congregate care settings from respiratory illnesses.

Individuals who live in households with vulnerable people, like elderly parents, should also consider avoiding crowds to mitigate risk. This guidance is posted on the Department of Public Health’s website, mass.gov/COVID19.

The public is reminded of steps to take to limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Cover your mouth – when you cough or sneeze use a tissue or your inner elbow, not your hands
  • Wash your hands – with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based sanitizing gel
  • Stay home if you are sick – and avoid close contact with others

The Administration will continue to update the public on further developments and individuals are encouraged to consult both the Department of Public Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites for the most up to date information.

The latest information and guidance regarding COVID-19 is always available at mass.gov/COVID19.

*     *     *

Berkshire Hills Regional School District Closed For Two Weeks

BHRSD Superintendent Peter Dillon presenting school budget to town meeting last year. Photo: David Scribner

The BHRSD Schools will be closed for the next two weeks in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. We expect to resume the regular school schedule on Monday, March 30.

In announcing this decision, we are working in collaboration and alignment with superintendents and districts across Berkshire County. We are making this unprecedented decision based on the latest information we received from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH).

Earlier today superintendents from across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts participated in a joint conference call with the commissioners of DESE and DPH. These state officials provided guidance of the state response and recommendations for school districts to address and respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Among the recommendations was that communities that are seeing an increase in community transmission of Coronavirus should consider closing for 14 days. Community transmission means that there are patients who are diagnosed or presumptive for the Coronavirus who do not meet the patterns related to international travel or close contact with a confirmed Coronavirus patient.

The Department of Public Health (MDPH) data for Berkshire County indicates that we are seeing such an increase in community transmission.

This condition, and the rapidly-changing situation in the Berkshires led us to join other Berkshire County school districts in making the decision to close for the next two weeks.

This is an unprecedented and challenging decision, but we believe it is the correct decision for our students, our educators, and the community. We know this will disrupt routines and lives for many families and caregivers, but we feel it serves the common good.

While we do not have all the answers at this time, we will continue to keep our school community and the community at large informed as our response continues to develop.

Thank you,

Peter Dillon, Superintendent

*     *     *

SBRSD to close for two weeks

This morning (March 13) I participated in several conference calls with the Commissioner of Education, the State Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, and the Berkshire County Superintendents. The Administrative Team met as well to continue discussions based on various potential scenarios. There has been a ton of information disseminated, but very little decisive guidance to help us make very difficult decisions. When faced with this type of decision, I turn to the core values I lead by, and number one in importance is the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff, and our school community.

With that said, I have made the decision to close all schools in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District for a minimum of two weeks beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020, with the intended return to school being Monday, March 30, 2020. Most, if not all, Berkshire County Districts will be doing the same in a preemptive measure to limit the spread of the Coronavirus disease. All school facilities Districtwide will be closed without exception during this two-week period.

There will be continuous updates and guidance being provided to us beginning this afternoon, and over the next several weeks. I will provide on-going communication with any information or resources we receive as it becomes available. We will continue to update the District website as well, while we wait for guidance on how best we can keep our school community engaged in learning in the most appropriate based context for SBRSD.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time, and for sharing your children with us each day.

Beth Regulbuto, Superintendent of Schools

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Statement from Town of Sheffield

The town of Sheffield is canceling all non-essential meetings. Please check our calendar on the website sheffieldma.gov for meeting information.

The Senior Center has canceled some of their activities. Please contact the Senior Center at 413-229-7037 for information and updates. At this time, the transportation program is operating on its normal schedule.

Town Hall will remain open. Please visit the website sheffieldma.gov for information regarding how to make payments on-line.

Census activities will continue as scheduled.

We are urging the public to use caution regarding large group functions, especially if you are not feeling well.

We will continue to provide updates as needed.

*     *     *

Berkshire DA’s Office Statement On Covid-19

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office recommits to contributing to a culture of civility and consideration in the community that we serve.

Public safety is, as always, our priority. We will continue to work in partnership with state and local police to enforce the law, protect victims and the community from dangerous individuals, respect due process rights, and provide avenues to meaningful support for those who are struggling.

We are mindful of our most vulnerable citizens whose access to help may be further limited during this period of social isolation. The Victim Advocates at the BDAO are available to provide safety planning and to help victims of crime access tools for their own empowerment. We encourage victims in isolation to contact local law enforcement for help.

The following hotlines are also available to provide safety and support to victims of crime:

  • Berkshire District Attorney’s Office: 413-443-5951.
  • Report Child Abuse to the Department of Children and Families emergency line at 800-792-5200.
  • The Brien Center is available for mental health and substance use crisis at 800-252-0227.
  • Elizabeth Freeman Center and the national domestic violence hotlines are available at 866-401-2425.
  • The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 888-373-7888.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.
  • The Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission at 800-426-9009.
  • The Massachusetts Elder Abuse Hotline at 800-922-2275.

The BDAO has implemented internal protocols limiting interaction between staff members and with non-staff members in order to protect employees, prevent the spread of illness in the community and ensure that our entire staff does not become subjected to quarantine.

The office will be closed to all non-BDAO staff members. Any necessary meetings or interviews will be held via teleconference or at outside locations.

District Attorney Andrea Harrington is working with local and state law enforcement to ensure law and order while limiting opportunities for the virus to spread.

BDAO will file motions to continue all pre-trial matters. No new jurors will be called through April 21, 2020, per order of the Supreme Judicial Court. Assistant District Attorneys will be available to handle arraignments, warrants, dangerousness hearings, and other immediate needs in order to protect the public and ensure due process rights.

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Spencertown Academy Cancels Embe Esti Concert

Spencertown, N.Y. — Spencertown Academy Roots & Shoots Concerts Series has canceled the concert by Embe Esti, with special guest jazz trumpeter Rob Fisch, which was scheduled for Saturday, March 21 at 8 p.m.

“The Board of the Spencertown Academy Arts Center wants to ensure the safety of our members and patrons during the current Coronavirus pandemic,” said Academy Board Member Madaline Sparks. “While there is no immediate local threat at this time, we are all aware of the probability that COVID-19 will continue to spread throughout New York State over the coming weeks.”

Founded in 1972, Spencertown Academy Arts Center is a cultural center and community resource serving Columbia County, the Berkshires, and the Capital region. Housed in a landmark 1847 Greek Revival schoolhouse, the Academy is located at 790 State Route 203 in Spencertown, New York. For more information, please see www.spencertownacademy.org or call 518-392-3693.

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Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview Hospital Enact Changes in Visitation to Further Lower Risk of Coronavirus Transmission

Pittsfield — Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview Hospital have announced changes to visitation policies in line with national trends and to further lower the risk of transmission of infectious disease, including the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Hospitals and other healthcare facilities across Massachusetts and the United States have enacted similar visitation restrictions.

“Berkshire Health Systems is committed to protecting the health and safety of our patients, visitors and staff, and this change helps us to enhance our ongoing efforts to minimize the potential transmission of COVID-19,” said James Lederer, MD, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Quality Officer for Berkshire Health Systems. “We recognize the importance of the support of family and loved ones to our patients during their stay at BMC or Fairview, but the novel coronavirus requires us to temporarily adjust our visiting policy in order to keep our patients and visitors safe from infection.”

The changes go into effect at 8 a.m. Sunday, March 15, and include:

  • No visitors under the age of 18
  • No visitors in the Emergency Department treatment areas, one visitor allowed in the waiting area per patient
  • No visitation for Medical/Surgical Units and Intensive Care
  • Mother Baby Unit: One adult birth partner per patient
  • Pediatric Unit: One parent per patient
  • Behavioral Health: One adult visitor per patient, with exceptions and screening based on the decision of the provider
  • End-of-Life Circumstances: Number of adult visitors based on specific circumstances
  • No one other than the approved visitor(s) can enter the building
  • No visitation if the visitor is experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms

The changes are temporary and visitation policies will be updated when the situation improves.

BMC and Fairview continue to use vigorous policies and procedures to address COVID-19, and all other infectious diseases, and is following guidelines from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as well.

“We thank our community for understanding and adhering to these policies to help us keep our patients, visitors and staff safe during these unique times,” said Dr. Lederer.

BHS continues to operate a toll-free hotline for questions and concerns surrounding COVID-19, which is available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and is at 855-262-5465.

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Lime Rock Park Statement Regarding Coronavirus

In response to the rapidly evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) scenario, Lime Rock Park offers the following update:

The health, safety and well-being of our industry, employees, fans and everyone associated with our events remains our top priority. We are actively monitoring the Coronavirus situation and are closely following updates from local, state and federal health organizations.

Connecticut Gov. Lamont’s Executive Order of Thursday, March 12, which impacts gatherings of more than 250 people, will potentially impact some of our scheduled activities for March and April. We are diligently working to clarify some aspects of the Order and will provide updated information regarding any affected events as soon as possible.

Currently, we intend to continue to host our 2020 season major spectator events as scheduled. As we move closer to the month of May, we expect to have updated information on the situation and will be continually sharing advisories on the website limerock.com. Similarly, we do not anticipate the disruption of routine daily activities conducted at Lime Rock Park.

We hope that these measures give you confidence that we are taking the necessary precautions in this evolving situation. We remain committed to providing you a safe and fun experience at our events.

For the most up-to-date information on the Coronavirus, visit the State of Connecticut’s website ct.gov/coronavirus or the CDC at cdc.gov.

Thank you for your understanding.

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Mahaiwe Cancels Events Through April 10

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center announces the cancellation of all events from Friday, March 13 through Friday, April 10.

“With the health and safety of our community in mind and in accordance with Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Town of Great Barrington, and other recommendations, we are dimming the lights at the Mahaiwe for the coming month,” said Mahaiwe Acting Executive Director Janis Martinson. “During that time, we will be actively communicating with our patrons, and working to be ready to welcome audiences back when that is possible.”

The canceled events include Norman Rockwell Museum’s Finding Home: We Are Stories on March 13; Met Opera in HD broadcasts of Der Fliegende Hollander on March 14 (including the pre-broadcast lecture by Scott Eyerly) and on March 18; Mahaiwe Education Programs school-time presentation of The Boy Who Could Sing Pictures on March 19; Close Encounters With Music’s The French Connection — Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Fauré on March 21; Mahaiwe Education Programs school-time presentation of Snowy Day and Other Stories on March 25; screening of The Blues Brothers on March 26; London’s National Theatre in HD broadcast of Cyrano de Bergerac on March 28; Bolshoi Ballet in HD broadcast of Romeo and Juliet on March 29,;and screening of Pulp Fiction on April 2.

For ticket exchanges and refunds, please call the Mahaiwe box office at 413-528-0100 during standard box office hours, which are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. The theater building will be closed to the public during this time.

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Statement from Sen Adam Hinds on coronavirus pandemic

On Tuesday, March 10, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in order to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Boston — Berkshire County is on the front lines of the ongoing public health crisis COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus. In a coordinated effort with local, state and federal officials, I have been working closely with the legislative delegation and community health partners, hospitals and medical centers to ensure that the Berkshires has the supplies, equipment, testing and infrastructure readily available to address any and all public health concerns that arise.

Earlier this afternoon (March 13) Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency as a result of the widespread impact of COVID-19. This declaration is a critical and appropriate response to address the Commonwealth’s evolving needs around this crisis. State-sponsored support is particularly necessary for communities like Berkshire County that require coordinated efforts between local municipalities to implement a succinct response and action plan. Now is the moment to activate MEMA and establish a coordinated agency response that includes local boards of health to provide guidance to employers, residents and the community.

The Berkshires needs local and statewide coordination to assist continuing efforts to halt the virus’ spread and support local health systems that are working tirelessly to avoid future COVID-19 cases.

In the legislature my colleagues and I are acting to pass a supplemental budget that will provide an immediate infusion of $15 million to enhance our state and local response efforts to combat, contain and prevent the spread of the virus.

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CANCELED: Hopkins Forest to Host Maplefest on March 14

Williamstown — With the approach of spring, maple sugaring season has arrived and Hopkins Memorial Forest hosts a Maplefest celebration on Saturday, March 14, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Because of the coronavirus epidemic, this annual event has been canceled.

The time-honored New England tradition of producing home grown sweeteners from local maple trees—will enable people to observe and take part in the process of producing maple syrup, from the tree to the bottle.

Traditionally, March is the busiest time for syrup producers in New England. As the days begin to warm, sugar-rich sap starts to flow upward from its winter storage in the trees’ roots to the twigs and buds; it is this sap that has been harvested for generations to produce maple products throughout the region. Sugaring has been going on in Hopkins Forest since the mid-1980s when Williams College students constructed a sugar house in an existing maple grove.

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Note to Customers from Guido’s Fresh Marketplace

We wanted to take a moment to remind you that the health and safety of our customers and staff is, as always, our top priority.

Our high standards for food integrity, safety, and thorough cleaning practices will be diligently maintained during the continued monitoring of the COVID-19 virus. We are also closely monitoring CDC news and guidelines, and will fully comply with any further guidance from the CDC or our state or local government as it becomes available. 

In addition to our already rigorous practices, Guido’s have added extra measures to ensure your continued safety such as, but not limited to: a modified sampling program, making sure that all work areas and high traffic customer areas are continually sanitized, and the installation of numerous disinfecting opportunities throughout the store for both customers and staff.

Please don’t hesitate to stop by the Customer Service desk with any questions or concerns you might have.

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Message from Barrington Stage regarding COVID-19

Pittsfield — Your health and safety have always been of utmost importance to us and we want to be proactive in serving you, especially in light of global concerns regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019). We want to emphasize that Berkshire County is still considered low-risk, though we are taking every possible precaution. We are following guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local and state health authorities, to safeguard the health and well-being of our entire community including our audiences, volunteers, employees and performers.

Barrington Stage Company acknowledges and shares the public’s concerns about protecting against the spread of COVID-19. The health and safety of staff and patrons are the top priorities for BSC. We are taking many proactive steps to maintain spaces free of contamination for our BSC community.

Currently, all performances planned for our 2020 season beginning in late May 2020 are proceeding as scheduled; however, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation. With regard to our educational programming for students, we are seeking guidance from school districts and local government as to whether and how to proceed. We will keep the entire community updated on our website and via email and social media on all of our programming.

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Norman Rockwell Museum programming changes

As a community partner in health, the Norman Rockwell Museum is following guidelines of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and Massachusetts governing authorities regarding COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. 

We continue to welcome guests to the museum galleries; following Massachusetts guidelines regarding public group gatherings, we are suspending public programs for the present time through March 31, and recommending social distancing in the galleries.

Please check the museum website for full details and updates at NRM.org

The following upcoming programming is suspended: 

(This is a partial list; please check NRM.org, for complete information, and note some programs may be presented digitally via the website or social media.)  

Friday, March 13: Finding Home: Multimedia Performance at Mahaiwe 

Sat. & Sun. March 14 & 15: Master Artist Weekend with writer/illustrator Yuyi Morales 

Virtual Reality experiences on Saturdays 

All advance program ticket sales will be refunded unless you wish to donate your registration fee to help the museum. Email us or call 413-931-2221 for refund. 

Additionally: 

We are observing best practices by instituting heightened cleaning measures and provisions of sanitizers throughout the museum We will be closely monitoring the latest developments and guidelines for updates.

Your health is important to us … thank you for your understanding and support. 

The museum will remain open daily until further notice: 

Weekdays: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Weekends and Holidays: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Reps. Pignatelli and Barrett introduce bill to provide financial assistance to those impacted by coronavirus

Boston – Reps. William “Smitty” Pignatelli and John Barrett III of the Massachusetts Berkshire Delegation announce today that they have taken legislative action to assist workers who are being negatively impacted by COVID-19.

H.D.4926, An Act establishing the COVID-19 Quarantine Assistance Fund, seeks to establish a fund to assist those who are financially impacted by coronavirus and its subsequent disease, COVID-19.  Administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the fund would provide grants to Massachusetts residents who are unable to perform wage-earning services due to COVID-19 infection, quarantine, or isolation. These funds would solely be available for these purposes.

“In this time of public health emergency, it is vital that we do all we can to assist those in Massachusetts who are negatively impacted by COVID-19,” said Representative Pignatelli.  “Through measured and appropriate responses, Massachusetts will be able to navigate and see the other side of this public health challenge. This bill would ensure that those who are financially vulnerable are not left behind because of it.”

Late Tuesday afternoon (March 10), Gov. Baker declared a State of Emergency for Massachusetts and provided information on operations of the Executive Branch as well as relayed information on public schools from the Commissioner. According to the state, the seven cases in Berkshire County through Wednesday cannot be traced to a specific point of origin.

“This legislation will provide much needed assistance to small business owners and furloughed employees who have no sick leave benefits,” said Representative John Barrett III. “The ramifications of the coronavirus is far reaching and it is critical that action be taken now.”

The bill currently has over 50 legislative co-sponsors and counting.

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People’s Pantry volunteers prepare food for distribution on the sidewalk outside St. James Place in Great Barrington, Mass.

People’s Pantry COVID-19 update

With caution in mind, The People’s Pantry is temporarily changing its method of food distribution.

Food distribution will take place outside to maintain “social distance.”

Instead of each shopper choosing food from many choices, we have prepackaged bags with two basic items from each category (soup, pasta sauce, tuna, beans, etc.).

Produce will be displayed on tables outside and distributed by volunteers when buyers point out their choices. Refrigerated milk will be taken outside as needed and added to buyers’ bags as requested. Milk and meat will also be distributed from coolers.

Listen to WSBS or WBCR-LP 97.7 FM to learn about possible closings or visit The People’s Pantry on Facebook or www.thepeoplespantrygb.org

Unfortunately, we cannot predict the future, but we hope that The Pantry will return to our usual method of operation very soon.

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COVID-19 update from Berkshire Bank

As with other larger employers and customer-facing organizations, Berkshire Bank is carefully monitoring the situation regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19), with a particular focus on public health guidance offered by the CDC and state officials. We are reaching out to make you aware of our activities and preparations in light of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Our number one priority is the safety of our customers, employees and the broader community. Click here to find out what we are doing.

We want to ensure that we can seamlessly meet your banking needs, so we want to share the following flexible banking options that you can use at home, work or even on the go. Click here for more information on how to use these options.

At this time, all Berkshire Bank branches remain open. Should that change, we will reach out to you with more information.

We thank you for your continued partnership with Berkshire Bank; should you have questions or concerns, our telephone banking is available at 888.685.8300, our call center representatives are available via phone at 800.773.5601 and you can access accounts online via berkshirebank.com. We are actively monitoring this situation and are following the guidelines outlined by the CDC website to manage the spread of the virus.  We will continue to send updates as this situation develops.

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration notice from DA Andrea Harrington

I’m writing once more to let you know that due to COVID-19, I am cancelling this event to prioritize everyone’s health and safety.

I am thankful to those who had already RSVPed and made contributions, and for everyone who was going to come out and celebrate. We will absolutely come together later in the spring when the virus has been contained.

Over the past year, my team and I in the Berkshire District Attorney’s office have worked to reform criminal justice in the county. And we’re not done. We will celebrate our successes from the past 14 months and everything we have to look forward to later this season. In the meantime, be well.

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Saturday (March 14) cancellations at Scoville Library

Salisbury, Conn. — At the Scoville Library both programs planned for Saturday, March 14,  Ayurveda and the Alchemy of Us are being cancelled.

Also cancelled are Meditation on Sundays through the end of March, Storytime through the end of March, and Mark Scarbrough on Toni Morrisson is cancelled and is rescheduled for the first three Tuesdays in May.

Information about the rest of March’s events  will be forthcoming soon.

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CATA message about COVID-19 

With the recent state of emergency in Massachusetts regarding COVID-19, we want to keep you informed of Community Access to the Arts’ planning as we respond to a quickly evolving situation.

What we are doing:

We recognize that many CATA artists are especially vulnerable and more at risk of serious complications from coronavirus. With the health and safety of CATA artists and our larger community as our top priority, we are suspending all CATA workshops until April 1.

Please know this was a difficult decision for us to make. We know that our artists benefit enormously from CATA workshops. But with the well-being of the community as our guiding light, we believe this is the right decision to keep CATA artists and partners safe. We hope this is a temporary interruption to our program year, and we look forward to scheduling make-ups soon so that our artists can continue to share their creative spirit and connect with others through the arts.

We will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds and to stay in close contact with program partners, caregivers, CATA artists and their families, and we will be in touch in the coming weeks to share more about our schedule in April. Please know that at this time, we are moving ahead with plans for upcoming public events in May, including our Annual Performance & Gala.

During these challenging times, we’re grateful for supporters and partners like you who believe in the life-changing power of CATA’s programs. We will miss our CATA artists over these next two weeks, and we look forward to resuming our dynamic, art-filled programs soon. If you have any questions or feedback, please reach out to me at (413) 528-5485 or Margaret@CATAarts.org.


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