Berkshire County continues to take enormous strides to combat the opioid crisis, including an extensive history of proactive practitioner education around pain management, more and more providers able to prescribe buprenorphine, and an increase in harm reduction, recovery, and treatment resources available despite the pandemic. In light of this extraordinary work, it was disheartening to see 62 opioid overdose deaths reported last year, up 11% from the year before and the highest number of recorded deaths.
Making our roads safer is a battle that involves many strategies. Helping to plot a path toward fewer fatalities and injuries, the state Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) identifies target safety Emphasis Areas for Massachusetts.
Funding Open Space, Trails and Active Transportation Across the Commonwealth
On December 16, 2021, various state agencies held a webinar titled “Funding Open Space, Trails, and Active Transportation Across the Commonwealth.” The Appalachian Mountain Club’s Kristen Sykes hosted and moderated the meeting.
Modern Roundabouts in the Berkshires In October 2021, the City of Pittsfield’s first-ever modern urban roundabout became operational at Tyler Street and Woodlawn Ave. The only other modern roundabout currently in the Berkshires is in Adams, constructed in 2016 on Route 8 by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Pittsfield’s roundabout is built entirely on city-owned roads in one of the densest neighborhoods of the city: no small feat.
UMass Study Outlines Municipal Impact of Climate Change A report conducted by UMASS Northeast Center for Coastal Resilience and Massachusetts Municipal Association offers insight into how municipalities perceive climate change’s challenges and impact. The study heard from 111 municipalities and ten planning agencies, including four Berkshire municipalities and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC). 64% of respondents represented inland communities. Larger cities were better represented in this survey than rural towns, as those communities are more likely to have staff who can respond to surveys. That said, the needs of inland and rural communities came through, particularly in the comments. It is helpful to see the overlap in concerns when considering how climate change will affect our region.
Williamstown – Birch Hill Brook
The Census Bureau has released the initial results from the 2020 Census. The official population for Berkshire County in 2020 was 129,026. This population represents a loss of 2,193 people since 2010 or -1.7%. The Census Bureau had estimated that the county’s population would drop to below 125,000, so the region did substantially better than estimated.
New Report Charts Path for the Post-COVID Commonwealth Workplace A July 2021 study commissioned by the Baker-Polito administration, Preparing for the Future of Work in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, seeks to help town leaders understand how workplace shifts begun during COVID-19 could impact their communities in years to come. Conducted by McKinsey & Company, the report explores near- (2025) and long- (2030) term trends and suggests how towns can prepare for them to support residents’ and economies’ success.
The Berkshire County Education Task Force (BCETF) is pleased to announce that it has secured funding from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Barr Foundation to continue efforts into 2021 and 2022. BCETF is a non-partisan group of committed community members dedicated to strengthening public education in Berkshire County, in light of shrinking enrollment, stretched resources, and constrained educational opportunities.
On November 30, 2020 the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) voted 3-1 in favor of creating two classes of adult-use marijuana delivery licenses. These regulations were promulgated on January 8, 2021. Previously, Marijuana Transporters were utilized to transport, temporarily store, sell, and distribute marijuana from one marijuana establishment (ME) or medical marijuana treatment center (MTC) to another. The newly enacted legislation permits the delivery of marijuana and marijuana products directly to the consumer’s residence.
Berkshire County public school district enrollment has been declining over the last several decades. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the question has arisen on how the pandemic has impacted the enrollment. Existing Student Enrollment As of October 1, 2020, the student population in the Berkshire County public school districts for K-12 was 14,258. On October 1, 2019, the enrollment was 14,748. This is a loss of 490 students, or -3.3%, in one year.