This Week in Pittsfield News

Taylor Swift, seen here holding a handmade sign she made for me

Berkshires bustling with outdoor happenings; Pittsfield “scene” hailed by Boston Globe; 3rd Thursday another success; Methadone Madness; Fun Facts about the  temp. school super; Breed bashing continues in dog bite incident; & more

It’s summer, with an extra hot solstice week to remind us, and seasonal and outdoor activities have been prominent in the news… Taylor Swift at Tanglewood, extensions added to the popular Springside Park concert series, lifeguards going on duty at Onota Lake soon, the city partnering with The Garden to promote discounted helmets for the heavy activity expected to be seen at the new skate park, and the kickoff of the new Downtown Loop on Monday.  

Oh, and there’s a press conference this coming Monday to announce WordXWord Festival number four… hard to believe it has been nearly a year since I had my mind blown at WordXWord 3!! Can’t wait to see what Jim Benson & co have in store for us this coming August.  For a broader perspective, see master cultural chronicler Jeremy Goodwin’s decisive state-of-the-union of the Pittsfield “scene,” from WordXWord to upcoming Agnostic Front and Agent Orange shows this summer, in today’s Boston Globe.

The second 3rd Thursday of the year was another fun and heavily crowded bash heralding summer, as Pittsfield had “gone country” across downtown this week.  Despite hot muggy climate (fightin’ weather, as they say), approximately doubled police presence after last month’s melee, and the wild-eyed proclamations of one ornery Stockbridge outsider, the monthly peak season street fair proceeded without significant incident, much like the 30 or so such celebrations prior to this year.  The biggest controversy I encountered that night was Megan Whilden trying to pass off as a ten gallon hat something that was clearly only about one gallon (exposed: seems there are no retail outlets for ten gallon cowboy hats here in the heart of the Berkshires!)

Gordon Noseworthy will serve as interim superintendent of schools for the coming year, it was decided by the school committee Monday.  Noseworthy was found favorable by a 6-1 vote over Basan “Buzz” Nembirkow, another retired superintendent being considered for the position.  It is likely that  initial word of application by Noseworthy, who once served as an administrator at Taconic, lead to a rumor by one discredited blogger that  longtime principal Douglass McNally had been “secretly named” interim superintendent.

Noseworthy was once featured in People magazine, when the Northampton high school he was then principal to had several boys join a previously all-girls field hockey team.  He again made national ink in 2010, when as interim superintendent of the North Brookfield school district he was forced to squash an unofficial memo from a teacher banning pencils and pens in one of its schools, in an incident that briefly went viral.

On a more somber note, the Red Cross is providing relief to 6 people left homeless from a fire on John Street last Sunday, and anyone wishing to help with donations of funds or supplies can direct it to them.

Deb Dwyer flings various accusations around at Monday’s ClinicGate rally.

More controversy over a revised plan by Spectrum Health to locate their addiction treatment clinic at a location in the Morningside neighborhood continued to rage all week, with lots of emotion and little reasoned thought or researched information.  Monday saw an impassioned crowd gathered outside Dwyer Funeral home, and more rallying at 3rd Thursday and throughout the week around an ill-conceived and badly worded new petition.  I went on Good Morning Pittsfield Wednesday [interview starts around 9 minutes in if you care to watch] and tried to inject some factual and scientific information into the mire of gut feelings and knee jerk reactions that has been swirling anew since last weekend. I doubt it will make any difference to anyone who wasn’t already open to learning more about the issue but I did get a lot of messages and calls thanking me, so there clearly is still a strong contingent in Pittsfield who realize that a new clinic is, realistically and statistically, likely to do more good for the city than harm, even at any of the locations it has sought to open at so far.  Thanks to John Krol for at least being willing to open his show to differing viewpoints.

Meanwhile, though Board of Health Chair Philip Adamo has taken a lot of heat for getting into bed with Spectrum (how dare someone associated with the board of health be associated with filling an under-served medical need in Pittsfield!) the board continues to get lots of praise for their altogether meaningless new cigarette ordinance, which accomplishes nothing except for some kind of odd symbolic blow, in the process of taking sales away from some businesses and simply handing them to different ones.

Despite being schooled by heaps of criticism in online forums and Letters to the Editor, most of the local media continues to embarass itself with pit bull scare headlines.  See last week’s roundup for my full scathing rebuke of this.  As an additional historical reference, some locals may remember that the last really big dog controversy in town, that of “Barney,” a shepherd malamute that bit a police officer and others.  Throughout the extended police and court drama ensuing from the attacks, headlines in the Berk. Eagle went from “dog attack” and “vicious canine” to more endearing first name placement as some in the community fought against the animal’s execution.  Not in a single one was the breed of the dog featured. So please don’t tell me I’m imagining things.

While I’m sure the intention behind this is not malicious, and merely just the kind of opportunistic sensationalism that is the hallmark of most media outlets… but the end result is a vicious circle of negative hype and breed discrimination.  What’s embarassing is that even after being chastised and made aware of this by dozens of people, they just can’t help themselves (although it’s interesting to note that the paper version of the Eagle headline Saturday says “dogs” and the online version says “pit bulls”- suggesting some-but-not-all of their editorial staff may have successfully absorbed the points made by angry readers this week).

And if you were ever wondering which of our local elected officials have the best tennis arm, check out YNN’s report on the dedication of the new $3 million dollar (in private funds, nobody need freak out) tennis courts at BCC on Monday.

In closing for the week, while we may not see eye to eye on every point, I think we can all agree that this performance at the YMCA Pre-K Graduation Friday is ADORABLE.  

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