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News Briefs: 350Mass Berkshires legislative breakfast; Lucy Prashker named Woman of Achievement; Mt. Washington Internet plan; GB’s junk car bylaw

By Friday, Oct 9, 2015 News

350Mass-Berkshires to host legislative breakfast

Pittsfield — 350Mass-Berkshires will host a legislative breakfast and conversation on the future of energy in Massachusetts with the Berkshire delegation on Friday, October 16 from 8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. at the Ralph Froio Senior Center. Parking is available behind the building. Berkshire legislators scheduled to participate in the panel discussion are Sen. Ben Downing, Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Rep. Paul Mark, and Rep. Smitty Pignatelli.

The state is poised to invest billions in new energy infrastructure and state legislators will make key decisions this fall. Hearings are underway in Boston on 11 different energy bills. Decisions made on these bills will have a huge impact on climate, energy costs, local economy, land, air, water, and health. The open forum is an opportunity for all to connect with our Berkshire legislators in an open conversation focused on a shared, long-term vision for energy in Massachusetts.

In inviting the Berkshire delegation, 350Mass-Berkshires asked that each representative consider key questions for the forum:

  • What specific ways can you influence committees on which you serve, and others, to consider the climate effects of their decisions?
  • Beyond raising the net metering cap and the Renewable Portfolio Standard, are there additional ways we can encourage our utility companies to increase efficiency and modernize the grid to incorporate emerging technologies that utilize and support local, clean, renewable energy sources?
  • What changes to the legislative and regulatory process need to occur to make our energy policy more data-driven and in the long-term interest of the people?

The event is free and open to the public. A light breakfast will be served. RSVPs are appreciated but not required; contact info@350ma-berkshires.org

–E.E.

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Lucy Prashker named 51st annual Woman of Achievement

Lucy Prashker

Lucy Prashker.

Pittsfield — Berkshire Business and Professional Women (BPW) has named Lucy Prashker, managing partner at Cain Hibbard & Myers, Counselors at Law, as this year’s Woman of Achievement. Each fall for 51 years, BPW has been honoring a local woman for her achievements and commitment to the community with the Woman of Achievement award.

Prashker will be recognized at a dinner event celebrating National Women in Business Week, on Monday, October 19, at the Country Club of Pittsfield. Kristine Hazzard, president and CEO of Berkshire United Way, will emcee the ceremony.

Prashker is very active in the Southern Berkshire community. She has served for more than 20 years as town counsel to the town of Alford, where she lives with her husband and daughter. She is president and chairperson of the board of directors of the Literacy Network of South Berkshire. She is also a member of the board of Berkshire Priorities (an organization of community leaders working to connect stakeholders to improve educational and economic opportunities throughout Berkshire County), the Early Childhood Literacy Council of Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Hills Fund for Excellence (an educational enrichment fund that supports the Berkshire Regional School District), and the Education Committee of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.

–E.E.

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Senate endorses Mt. Washington’s broadband internet plan

Boston — Under the leadership of State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield), the Massachusetts Senate engrossed S. 1978, An Act authorizing the town of Mount Washington to establish, own, and operate broadband infrastructure and services and to issue bonds or notes therefor.

Mount Washington plans to build a town-owned, modern, fiber-to-the-home network to provide high-speed Internet access to its residents.

This home rule petition, filed on behalf of Mount Washington by Downing and State Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D- Lenox) was approved by a majority of voters during a Special Town Meeting on July 13. It was referred to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy (TUE) for review and consideration and received a favorable report from the Committee on September 21. Downing serves as the Senate chair of the Committee.

S. 1978 authorizes the Town of Mount Washington to establish, own and operate a broadband infrastructure project without establishing a municipal light plant. Further, the legislation grants the Town permission to borrow funding to support the project for periods of up to 20 years.

While state law calls for a town to have or establish a municipal light plant in order to borrow funds to support construction of such infrastructure, Mount Washington’s officials believe forming a municipal light plant would be unnecessary and onerous given the size of their community (fewer than 140 residents).

In testimony to the TUE Committee, the Mount Washington Select Board explained that the Town currently struggles to fill existing municipal boards and committees and suggested that a municipal light plant would create an additional burden for Mount Washington’s local officials, most of whom are volunteers. The borrowing plan will allow the community to finance its broadband infrastructure project in the same manner as any other town asset such as roads or buildings.

The Board cited strong support within the community to allocate the necessary resources to move forward with the project. The Board has developed a sound business plan, worked with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and hired counsel to assist with financial matters. To date, approximately half of Mount Washington residents have signed up for installation of high-speed internet.

The legislation will now go to the House of Representatives.

–E.E.

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Town to enforce Automobile Storage Bylaw

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Police Department is conducting its annual campaign to enforce the Town’s Automobile Storage Bylaw. Unregistered or dilapidated junk cars left on property are in violation of the bylaw. The Town offers four ways to rectify the situation: properly register the vehicle; screen the vehicle from public view by permanent means such as fencing or a garage structure; remove the vehicle; obtain a one-year non-renewable permit from the police station for $25.

The National Kidney Foundation, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the American Lung Association will pick up unwanted vehicles and offer a tax deduction for the donation.

Residents are being asked to comply with the bylaw within three weeks. The bylaw calls for a $50 fine for each day of the violation. Call the police station for more information at (413) 528-0306.

–E.E.


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