News and Updates

Town broadband projects fight telecom opposition to law tweak

Original Article

Posted Thursday, July 26, 2018 3:09 pm
Town-led broadband projects across Western Massachusetts are fighting for a single paragraph in the Legislature's massive economic development bond bill — a provision that costs taxpayers nothing but is opposed by the telecom industry.

The measure would allow town-owned networks funded by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to cross town lines and serve "edge" customers who might otherwise not be reached.

Failure to restore the language, in the final days of the state Legislature's formal session, could hobble efforts to bring high-speed internet to rural communities, people involved say.
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State bill to fund development project in Charlemont

Original Article

 


Staff Writer

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The state Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a sweeping economic development bill, boosting support for startups and entrepreneurs, and authorizing targeted investments in projects including a proposed Mohawk Trail shared workspace in East Charlemont.

The economic development bill, which also would funds worker retraining, authorizes $75 million in competitive grants for technical education and workforce training programs and $200 million in bonds to the MassWorks Infrastructure Program to support thousands of jobs in economic development and community revitalization projects, according to Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield.

“This legislation will nurture and support economic growth … across western Mass.,” said Hinds. “It makes key investments in infrastructure, maintains the Commonwealth’s economic strength and encourages innovation and entrepreneurship.”

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Greylock Glen, innovation center receive tentative state allocations

Posted Thursday, July 26, 2018 7:09 pm
PITTSFIELD — Another financial domino is lined up to aid the Greylock Glen project in Adams, but at least two more steps are needed for it to fall.

State Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, succeeded this week in winning a $2 million allocation in the Senate's economic development bond bill for a planned outdoor center at Greylock Glen. The project is the centerpiece of a scaled-down effort by the town of Adams to bolster commercial activity on the state-owned property.

The Senate's bond bill still must be reconciled with a version that passed in the House. And even then, the allocations it contains — worth as much as $12 million in Hinds' district — must be greenlighted by the governor's office. Unlike an "earmark" in a budget bill, these sums are not considered a lock for recipients.

Still, Hinds said Thursday the funding gives the Greylock Glen project priority for capital spending by the administration.

"The project feels like it's coming together," Hinds said.

In addition to the bond bill, which passed the Senate 37-0 on Wednesday, the Greylock Glen project could benefit from an environmental bond bill.

Two weeks ago, the Senate's environmental bond bill included $6.55 million in new or reauthorized monies for Greylock Glen. That amount was made up of $2.3 million in a new allocation, plus a renewal of $4.25 million that was never tapped but had been included the 2014 environmental bond bill, according to Hinds' office.
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Hinds Backs Efforts to Bolster Mountain Biking Trails

Original Article

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
07:08AM / Sunday, July 22, 2018

 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State Sen. Adam Hinds knows mountain biking is an emerging industry. But, he also knows people who drive through the Berkshires to get elsewhere for it.
 
"Mountain biking has been identified as an industry that is growing and we are well positioned for it," Hinds said.
 
According to New England Mountain Bike's Berkshire County Branch President Alison McGee, there are hundreds of great mountain biking trails throughout Berkshire County. But, most aren't mapped. Unless people are in certain Facebook groups or know others who can show them around, many don't know about them. She knows there are different levels of maintenance being done. And she knows not all of them have always been at the liking of property owners.
 
Back in September, outdoor recreational enthusiasts from a number of sports in the area joined together and an idea was sprung — let's get all of our trails mapped, marketed well, maintained, and properly authorized. That will both promote the sport and bring more people to the area. It is one of many efforts being done to support the outdoor recreation economy.
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Hinds Secures Funding For Rural School Aid In State Budget

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
02:07AM / Tuesday, July 24, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Nine rural Berkshire County schools will get a little extra state aid this year because of a new program introduced by state Sen. Adam Hinds.
 
Hinds secured $1.5 million to start a rural sparsity aid program in the state budget. For schools in towns with less than 10 students per square mile and a per capita income below the state average, the state will give an additional $100 per student. The Pittsfield Democrat sees that as only a start and hopes to expand the program next year.
 
"The overall line item is $1.5 million and we view that as a starting point because we are introducing the concept. We truly hope that it will expand to an amount so we can not only give more to each of these schools - there are 34 schools - but also expand to the original concept of 21 students per square mile and below," Hinds said. 
 
Hinds had pitched the program at $300 per student and to have it for schools with 21 students per square mile but it had been scaled back in order to get enough support. The effort follows a report filed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education showing that rural schools have been struggling financially to maintain programming.
 
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$1.5M of new ‘rural school aid’ in latest state budget


Recorder Staff

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Legislature’s $41.88 billion compromise budget approved Wednesday includes a new “rural school aid” account championed by local Sen. Adam Hinds as a way of addressing the financial challenges of rural school districts.

The budget calls for $1.5 million in additional funding for rural school districts, most of which are in western Massachusetts.

The new account provides additional funding for an estimated 62 school districts with enrollment of fewer than 21 students per square mile and per capita income below the state average, with priority given to districts serving fewer than 11 students per square mile.

“We’re incredibly excited,” said Hinds, D-Pittsfield. “It will have a big impact schools throughout the commonwealth, but particularly in Western Mass.”

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Legislature OKs Mohawk fund investment


Recorder Staff

Monday, July 16, 2018

BUCKLAND — Both the state House and Senate have agreed on special legislation that would allow the Mohawk Trail Regional School District’s treasurer to invest the Carl H. Nilman Scholarship Trust Fund to earn more money for future scholarships. The Nilman Fund was established in the will of Carl H. Nilman, a former Buckland resident, to allow part of the income earned from the fund to be used for post-high school scholarships for Mohawk graduates from the nine member towns.

One of those graduates, Sen. Adam Hinds (then of Buckland), was awarded a Nilman scholarship in 1994.

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Ashfield dam, Glacial Pothole money in Senate bill


Recorder Staff

Saturday, July 14, 2018

If the state enacts the environmental bond bill unanimously approved this week in the Senate, there will be state money to help pay for repairs and reconstruction of the Ashfield Lake Dam, along with money to improve the observation area in front of the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls.

In the $2 billion environmental bond bill, Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, secured almost $29 million worth of capital spending authorizations for environmental infrastructure, protection and to promote outdoor recreation in western Massachusetts.

 

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Senate Environmental Bond Bill Highlights

Senator Hinds secures $28.875M in capital spending authorizations to maintain key environmental infrastructure, protect natural resources and promote outdoor recreation in western Mass.

BOSTON – State Senator Adam G. Hinds (D- Pittsfield) announces that on Thursday the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed H. 4613, An Act promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection and investment in recreational assets and opportunity, often referred to as the “environmental bond bill” by a vote of 38-0.
“The Senate’s environmental bond bill provides necessary resources to preserve the Commonwealth’s natural resources and promote economic growth,” said Hinds. “My goal was to secure capital support to maintain and repair local culverts and dams, protect the region’s lakes, ponds and natural resources, and continue our efforts to promote western Mass. as a major destination for outdoor recreation activities by investing in projects like the Greylock Glen and multi-use trail development across the District.”
The legislation authorizes the issuance of more than $2 billion in bonds to implement climate change adaptation programs and to improve existing climate resilient infrastructure. It is a 5-year bond bill; the spending authorizations will expire on June 30, 2023.
Massachusetts has continually demonstrated leadership in the fight against global climate change, and the investments authorized in bond bill ensure that cities and towns across the Commonwealth are protected and that public spaces and infrastructure are improved and maintained for the public good.
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Adam Hinds and Anita Walker: Cultural Facilities Fund expansion a Berkshire boost

Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2018 4:39 pm
BOSTON — Across Western Massachusetts museums, theaters, music halls, and art studios are among our most cherished icons, centers for creativity and civic life, and engines for our local economies. It's easy to forget that the structures that house these vital nonprofits exist only with a supportive community of philanthropists who believe in their public mission. Thankfully the Commonwealth and its citizens are part of that community through a national model capital program, the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund.

CFF has had an outsized impact in Western Mass. This year the Cultural Facilities Fund brought $875,000 to cultural facilities in the Berkshires. Recently, the CFF helped Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket and Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox expand education spaces for our region's schoolchildren, spurred restoration of the Mahaiwe Theatre in Great Barrington, and catalyzed private investment in downtown Pittsfield with timely grants to the Colonial Theatre and Barrington Stage Co. CFF grants have also helped organizations like the Norman Rockwell Museum and Berkshire Historical Society upgrade their historic buildings to become more accessible to adults and children with disabilities.

Since its establishment in a 2007 economic stimulus bill, the CFF has invested $110 million in 853 projects across the Commonwealth. Statewide these organizations already employ more than 7,000 workers, have hired 25,513 architects, designers, engineers, and construction workers for their projects, and plan to add 2,200 new permanent jobs after completing them. In restoring and expanding many of our nation's most treasured historical and cultural landmarks, CFF has driven new tourism, Massachusetts' third largest industry and a key pillar of our Berkshires economy. About 16 million people annually visit these sites across the Commonwealth, with one third coming from out of state. Thank you, New Yorkers!
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