News Briefs: Pignatelli appointed to rail study advisory committee; Hinds’ holiday open house; expansion grant for CHP; priority designation for Mount Washington

Through a partnership with the Nature Conservancy, the Schenob Brook restoration/Becker Pond Dam removal project will benefit wild Eastern brook trout and other species threatened by the effects of climate change.

Pignatelli appointed to passenger rail study advisory committee

Boston — Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, has announced that he has been appointed to serve as a member of the project advisory committee for the East-West Passenger Rail Study. Pignatelli has been a fierce advocate for the Berkshires to have a seat at the table regarding transit conversation, and spearheaded the fight for Berkshire representation on various Massachusetts transit commissions.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s East-West Passenger Rail Study is charged with evaluating strategies for providing rail service between Boston and Springfield, as well as to Pittsfield. The study will assess the current conditions of the railroad, ridership potential, and the estimated investment required for a range of service alternatives, including at least one alternative that will achieve 90-minute travel times between Springfield and Boston.

As part of the effort, MassDOT has convened an advisory committee to provide input and consultation throughout the process. The study duration is anticipated to be between 12 and 18 months.

Pignatelli was appointed by transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. Pignatelli represents one of four members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who are joining the committee along with Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield; Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer; and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno of Springfield. 1Berkshire and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission also hold seats on the committee.

Pignatelli, dean of the Berkshire legislative delegation, has long been an advocate of establishing a rail link between Boston and the Berkshires. In the fall of 2017, Pignatelli and the delegation testified before the Joint Committee on Transportation in favor of expanding bill that aimed to authorize the study of a high-speed rail access between Boston and Springfield to also include Pittsfield. In February, Pignatelli and Rep. John Barrett III, D-North Adams, also played a key role in working with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito to place a Berkshire County resident on the governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission aimed at looking at transportation in the Commonwealth.

The project advisory committee’s kick-off meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in Springfield.

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Hinds to hold holiday open house

Pittsfield — Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, will host a holiday open house Thursday, Dec. 13, from 4 to 7 p.m. at his office, 100 North St., Suite 410. The public is invited to attend, mix and mingle with Hinds and his staff and spread holiday cheer. Light refreshments will be served.

During the event, Hinds will announce the winner of his holiday greeting card design contest, for which more than 300 students in grades three through six across his Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden District submitted drawings that are on display in Hinds’ office. The winning drawing is the featured art on Hinds’ holiday greeting card this year, which will be mailed to hundreds of friends, family, colleagues and constituents.

This holiday season Hinds is partnering with Western Massachusetts Toys for Tots; his district office is a drop site for donations of unwrapped toys. Local members of the U.S. Marine Corps will be in attendance at the open house to accept donations.

Those who wish to make a donation but are unable to attend the open house can do so Monday through Friday during normal business hours until the week of Monday, Dec. 17. The Marines will distribute all collected toys to children and families in western Massachusetts in time for the holidays.

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Community Health Programs receives expansion grant

Great Barrington — Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, has announced that Community Health Programs has been awarded one of 12 fiscal year 2019 Parent-Child Home Program expansion grants from the state Department of Early Education and Care. The grants are funded out of line item 3000-7050 in the state budget, and CHP will receive $27,730.

“CHP does life-changing medical, dental and family service work in the Berkshires,” said Pignatelli. “The CHP Parent-Child Home Program allows families and children the opportunity to start early education in their own home and provides children with the skills needed for success in school.”

The PCHP uses an evidence-based model of intensive home visits to strengthen parents’ skills in enhancing their children’s cognitive development and school readiness. PCHP home visitor sites serve families challenged by poverty, low levels of education, language barriers homelessness, and other potential obstacles to academic success.

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Mount Washington to receive Priority Project designation grant

Mount Washington — Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, has announced that the Schenob Brook restoration/Becker Dam removal project has been designated as a Priority Project by the Baker-Polito administration through the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration.

Last week, the Baker-Polito administration announced that 12 new river and wetland restoration projects were designated as Priority Projects through the Department of Fish and Game. Each project restores healthy habitats while also helping communities prevent storm damage, address aging infrastructure and improve outdoor recreation. Upon receiving designation, Priority Projects are eligible for technical services, including data collection, engineering, design work, permitting, project management and grants.

Through a partnership with the Nature Conservancy, the Schenob Brook restoration/Becker Pond Dam removal project will benefit wild Eastern brook trout and other species threatened by the effects of climate change.