Retrospective of the year 2022 (second part): from May to August

Over time in the spring and summer, in-person events began to spring up in the Berkshire County area. Many of those events, including the Great Barrington Memorial Day Parade and Bard College graduation ceremonies, had been suspended for several years due to the pandemic. During this time, several municipal elections were held throughout the region. Great Barrington held its annual town meeting where residents passed a longstanding short-term rental law and debated it vigorously. Residents young and old have had their voices heard on the Housatonic Water Works situation, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and gun violence. And a contentious primary season for Berkshire County Sheriff and District Attorney nominations has grown increasingly contentious over time.

At a select council meeting on May 3, Great Barrington Town Manager Mark Pruhenski has been instructed by the council to send a letter to Housatonic Water Works Treasurer Jim Mercer asking his company to provide bottled water and filtration systems to customers. The request came after several months of the council’s handling of complaints from residents and city officials who had to deal with discolored water, the potentially carcinogenic compound HAA5 in its water and insufficient mouth pressure. fire. Throughout the year, the Select Board held a series of executive sessions at its meetings to discuss what the city should do about the struggling business.

May 9 in the annual municipal elections, the people of Sheffield elected Nadine Hawver to the Selectboard by beating her opponent George Oleen. At West Stockbridge, Andy Potter beat Selectboard chairman Eric Shimelonis.

Also on May 9, a a group of 20 residents filed a civil complaint against the Great Barrington Zoning Appeal Board. The group appealed the council’s decision to uphold a decision by zoning enforcement officer Edwin May to deny a request by airport neighbors to enforce the city’s zoning bylaw against the airport.

May 17 in Lee’s annual municipal elections, voters elected Gordon Bailey to the Select Board. Bailey previously served on the board from 2000 to 2012 and he beat candidates Anne Langlais and Robert Wright. In the city’s referendum ballot, voters approved a non-binding resolution asking the Selectboard to rescind its endorsement of the Rest of River deal.

At the end of May, the non-profit association Clinton Church Restoration Announcement that it received a capital grant of $117,000 from MassDevelopment and the Mass Cultural Council. A representative for the organization said the funds will be used to help complete architectural and technical plans for the African American Cultural Heritage Center the nonprofit is creating in the center’s desecrated church. -town of Great Barrington.

May 21, Bard College in Simon’s Rock has graduated its 53rd class. A total of 140 students graduated at the event, which was the college’s first in-person debut in three years.

On May 23, the Select Board sent short-term tenancy bill at the city’s annual municipal meeting. As former editor Terry Cowgill described, “The process was fraught with controversy, as various members of the board found themselves caught up in conflicts of interest – apparent or real – and debates often fierce battles between those who believe Airbnb-style rentals should be limited to preserve the character of residential neighborhoods and housing supply, and those who oppose limits on how landlords can use their properties.

At the same meeting of the select committee, the council voted against liquor license for Price Chopper.

May 26, four people were arrested in connection with a robbery at the Berkshire Bank branch on Stockbridge Road.

May 30, Great Barrington held its Memorial Day Parade. It was the first time the event had been held in person since 2019.

May 31 in West Stockbridge, member of the city’s finance committee Andy Krouss beat former manager Peter Skorput in a special election to take the seat of Roger Kavanagh. At a Selectboard meeting in March, Kavanagh said he would step down due to “inefficiencies in city government and city divisions.”

In a letter to the city on June 2, Housatonic Water Works Treasurer James Mercer refused the city’s request that the company compensates customers for poor water quality. In a letter to City Manager Mark Pruhenski, Mercer wrote that the company is bound by rules and regulations established by the state’s Department of Utilities and that “there is no provision in these documents for amenities research”.

On June 6, at the annual town hall meeting in Great Barrington, residents adopted the proposed regulations on short-term rentals. The regulations allow short-term rentals in primary or secondary accommodation. A competing version of the regulation, less strict, had been placed on the mandate of municipal assembly via a citizens’ petition. However, this version failed.

On June 10, 75 students from Du Bois Middle School held a protest gun violence. The protest was similar to hundreds organized across the country in light of several school shootings, including the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman shot and killed 19 students and two teachers.

On June 11, the former AME Zion Church in Great Barrington was rededicated as WEB Du Bois Center for Freedom and Democracy. When completed, the center will be the first museum and memorial in North America dedicated to Du Bois and his legacy.

In a virtual meeting on June 16, Housatonic Water Works announced that it had hired a consultant to deal with his ongoing manganese issues in his system. The company revealed the hiring of Northeast Water Solutions President Robert Ferrari, who was previously hired by the State of Michigan to be an expert consultant on nationally reported water quality issues in Flint. , Michigan.

On June 23, a teenager was accused of setting fire in the vacant Searless School building. The building, located on Bridge Street in Great Barrington, suffered minor damage in the incident.

June 26 in Great Barrington, a group of residents from across the Berkshires protested the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. A larger protest also took place later in the day in Park Square in Pittsfield.

From July 1 to July 3, Ski Butternut hosted the 21st annual Berkshire Arts Festival. Over 160 artists from across America and the Berkshires participated in the event.

On July 2, the late musician David Grover was commemorated at a dedication ceremony at the city lookout point. During the ceremony, the gazebo, along with part of the city park surrounding the gazebo, was renamed Grover’s Corner.

July 6, Berkshire County Sheriff Tom Bowler opposed candidate Alf Barbalunga during a virtual forum sponsored by the Berkshire County branch of the NAACP, the state’s ACLU and the League of Women Voters. The event included several tense moments, with both contestants making several accusations against each other. As the campaign season progressed, Barbalumga continued to make new charges against Sheriff Bowler.

On July 9, more than 50 members of the Berkshire County community attended a forum in Stockbridge to discuss the mental health impacts of the pandemic. The event was organized to allow residents to discuss their pandemic-related experiences with others.

Always July 9 MUSE Artist Studios held its open house event. The studio, located at 430 Park Street, Housatonic, is a four-story former factory building that sits right next to the Housatonic River.

On July 13, the Becket Planning Board accepted the withdrawal of an application for a glamping resort project on the Dream Away Lodge property. The project was fiercely opposed by residents in a series of tense public hearings throughout the year.

At its July 19 meeting, the Great Barrington Select Board decided not to proceed with previously suggested traffic calming measures. Vice Chairman Leigh Davis urged the board to put Main Street on a “road diet.”

On July 21, The Literacy Network of South Berkshires, along with program participants and residents who recently immigrated to America, celebrated the successes of the organization at an event at the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Late July, Springfield native Sophia Bletsos has been appointed human resources director for five cities in the region: Great Barrington, Sheffield, New Marlborough, Monterey and West Stockbridge.

On August 3, the two Berkshire County prosecutor candidates discussed issues at a forum. Outgoing Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington and his challenger Timothy Shugrue took part in the forum, which was relatively civil compared to the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Forum between Berkshire County Sheriff Tom Bowler and the candidate Alf Barbalunga, which took place on July 6.

On August 4, car enthusiasts from across the region participated in Great Barrington Fire Department Annual Car Show. All proceeds from the show benefited the department’s scholarship fund dedicated to the memory of Rod Mead.

On August 5, Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington announced that after investigation she had discovered Pittsfield police officer Nicholas Sondrini acted in self-defense in the March 25 shooting of 22-year-old Miguel Estrella, who was going through a mental health crisis.

August 8, Housatonic Water Works announced its intentions double the prices of its customers. Company representatives said they want to raise the rates to be paid for the company’s plans to address ongoing manganese issues in its system.

On August 10, Great Barrington announced that it had hired Joe Aberdale as the new superintendent of the Department of Public Works.

On August 15, Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler and candidate Alf Barbalunga accused each other in a public debate. The televised event took place at the Berkshire Athenaeum Library.

Right after the sheriff’s debate was the debate between the two district attorney candidates Timothy Shugrue and incumbent Andrea Harrington.

August 21 in Sheffield, an event was held for the unveiling of a statue and plaque commemorating Elizabeth Freeman. The statue is located at the Town Green.

August 22, Samara Klein has been named the new director of the library for Great Barrington. Klein was hired by the city to oversee the operations of the Mason and Ramsdell libraries.

August 27, The legacy of WEB Du Bois was celebrated at the “I knew rivers” event at WEB Parc de la rivière Du Bois. As part of the event, Dennis Powell, Chairman of the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP, released water samples he had collected from The Last Bath River in Accra, Ghana into the Housatonic River. .

Check back here tomorrow for Part 3 of “2022 In Review” covering September through December.

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