COVID-19 Response2022-10-11T17:06:59-04:00

Information & Resources Regarding COVID-19 in the Berkshires

UPDATE: Many Berkshire businesses are once again acting in accordance with CDC COVID-19 recommendations to mask up indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Please be aware as you patronize businesses and organizations in our community, and please follow safety protocols set in place by each proprietor.

The team at 1Berkshire is monitoring developments and official guidance, and will continue to gather informational resources to share with our business community as we navigate these uncharted waters. We will use this page to provide updated information, useful links, resources, tips, and best practices for all of us living and working in the Berkshires. Please check back regularly for updated information.

1Berkshire is currently operating remotely to service the needs of the community during these trying times. Our team is actively engaging with all our major stakeholders to ensure the prosperity of our region. Please feel free to reach out to us at info@1berkshire or call us at (413) 499-1600.

Table of Contents

UPDATED October 11, 2022 5:06 PM

Virtual Town Hall

This previously-recorded weekly series focused on the impacts that the COVID-19 crisis has had on our local economy and community.

Learn More

Homebound Fun

A collection of fun and entertaining ways to survive social distancing. 1B Staff Picks throughout!

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1Berkshire Member Toolbox for COVID-19 Response & Preparedness

As a Member of 1Berkshire, we are here for you. Please use this toolbox containing Guidance from Federal, State & Local Officials to help your business, employees, and clientele. Follow and share these links for up-to-date information.

Berkshire Resources

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Resources

Federal and International Resources

Vaccine Eligibility

  • All individuals over the age 6 months are now eligible.

State and Federal Information

  • Text Alerts – Text COVIDMA to 888-777 to receive COVID-19 text message alerts straight to your phone and stay up to date with the latest news + updates from the Commonwealth. Para recibir alertas de mensajes de texto de la Mancomunidad de Massachusetts, envíe un mensaje de texto con COVIDMAESP al 888-777.
  • MEMA’s Emergency Operations Center’s Private Sector Hotline: 508-820-2094  (M–F8AM – 4PM)
  • Berkshire Medical Center toll-free hotline for questions/concerns: 855-BMC-LINK – or – 855-262-5465  (7 days/week, 7AM – 7PM)
  • Massachusetts Department of Public Health: 617-983-6800  (24-hour emergency hotline)

SBA Debt Relief

Massachusetts Resources

Federal and International Resources

Reopening Guidance

Current Reopening Phase: Fully Reopened though indoor mask mandate may be in effect.

Update Wednesday, August 4, 2021:

  • Per CDC recommendation, many Berkshire businesses are once again requesting that all patrons mask up indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Please be aware as you patronize businesses and organizations in our community, and please follow safety protocols set in place by each proprietor.

NOTE: See the ACTIVE GOVERNMENT ORDERS container below for regulations temporarily in force.

Effective Saturday, May 29, 2021:

  • All remaining COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
  • Face covering requirements have been lifted; non-vaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing masks and distancing in most settings, but fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a face covering or social distance indoors or outdoors except in certain situations, such as public and private transportation, healthcare facilities and providers, congregate care settings, and health and rehabilitative day services. Staff and students at K-12 schools and early education providers are also required to continue wearing face coverings.

NOTE: On Monday, March 22, all communities in Massachusetts moved into Phase IV, Step One. This allowed several business sectors to open under tight capacity restrictions, which are expected to be adjusted over time in accordance with public health data trends. See this press release for additional detail.

  • Indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks are allowed to operate at a 12% capacity limit upon submitting a plan to the state Department of Public Health.
  • Gathering limits for event venues and in public settings are increased to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors – gatherings at private residences remain limited to 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors.
  • Dance floors are permitted at weddings and other events.
  • Overnight summer camps will be permitted to operate this summer.
  • Exhibition and convention halls may begin to operate, subject to gatherings limits and event protocols.
  • Other Phase IV business sectors must remain closed at this time, including but not limited to: road races and other large outdoor amateur athletic events; street festivals; parades; amusement parks, theme parks, and water parks; saunas; beer gardens, breweries, wineries, distilleries, nightclubs, dance clubs, and bars not providing seated food service.

Key orders from the Baker Administration are listed below. For a full list, visit this page.

“The Travel Advisory” Effective Monday March 22, 2021, replacing the Travel Order. Visitors to the Commonwealth and Massachusetts residents returning home are advised to quarantine for ten days, with exceptions for:

  • Those who have tested negative for COVID-19 within the most recent 72 hours (or tests negative during their 10-day quarantine)
  • Anyone entering Massachusetts for fewer than 24 hours
  • Anyone returning to Massachusetts after being out of state for fewer than 24 hours
  • Workers entering Massachusetts to perform critical infrastructure functions
  • Travelers who are fully vaccinated (i.e., those who have received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, no fewer than 14 days ago).

“Mask Advisory” (Advisory Regarding Face Coverings and Cloth Masks) Individuals who are fully vaccinated may resume all activities without wearing a mask or social distancing, except where required by federal, state, or local laws, rules, or regulations. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated are advised to wear a mask, stay six feet from individuals who are not part of their household, avoid crowds and poorly-ventilated indoor spaces, wash hands often with soap and water, and get tested if they have been exposed to or have symptoms associated with COVID-19. All people in Massachusetts regardless of vaccination status are required to continue wearing face coverings in certain settings, including transportation and health care facilities.

  • As of July 30, 2021: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health advises even fully-vaccinated people to wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in their own homes) if they have weakened immune systems, or if they are at risk of severe disease because of their age or an underlying health condition, or if someone in their household has a weakened immune system, is at increase risk for severe disease, or is an unvaccinated adult.

Reopening Massachusetts – The Baker-Polito Administration’s comprehensive plan to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, get people back to work, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19.

Federal Guidance

Additional Resources

  • MA Small Biz Reopening Guide – This online resource from the Mass Growth Capital Corp. and Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corps helps businesses navigate available guidance and tools that will help them reopen safely and successfully.
  • Upcoming Webinars:
  • Recorded Webinars:
    • MassMEP – The ABCs of Returning Safely to Work – Navigating the Alphabet Soup of Regulations As We Get Back To Work (recording). Tune in to learn about areas of your business where you will need to make changes and considerations for new rules, new equipment, new processes and adapt the factors you consider in decision making.
    • MassMEP – The ABCs of Returning Safely to Work – Who Will Be Your COVID-19 Safety & Health Coordinator? (recording) Tune in to learn about what you need to consider in establishing a staff member or team to manage COVID-19 best practices in your workplace.
    • MassMEP – The ABCs of Returning Safely to Work – New Rules. New Procedures. Which Ones Should I Apply To My Business? (recording) Tune in to learn about new practices and procedures you can apply to improve safety in your business, including signage and communications, updating sick policies, PPE implementation, and more.
    • MassMEP – The ABCs of Returning Safely to Work – Two OSHA Documents You Already Have to Help with COVID-19 Requirements (recording). Tune in to learn about two key OSHA documents you will need to update, as well as steps your organization should take to prepare for emergencies in the workplace.
    • MassMEP – The ABCs of Returning Safely to Work – I Didn’t Know I Needed To Do All That To Disinfect and Clean Safely! (recording).Tune in to learn the answers to some common questions about what you can to do to keep your workplace clean and disinfected.
    • The Brookings Institution – Reopening Schools in the Fall Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall – Reopening the Berkshire Economy This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Senator Adam Hinds, Ben Sosne (Executive Director, Berkshire Innovation Center), and Jennifer Trainer Thompson (Executive Director, Hancock Shaker Village). The panel discussed the numbers that matter, budgetary impacts, and tactics and approaches needed to ensure a safe and sustainable reopening of the economic cornerstones of the region.
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall – Reopening the Economy – Phase 3 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall features Senator Adam Hinds, John Lewis (Chief Executive Storyteller, SP3AK EASY Studio), Eric Kerns (Partner, TOURISTS), Jennifer Trainer Thompson (President and CEO, Hancock Shaker Village) discussing the steps, logistics, and potential impacts of Phase 3 reopening here in the Berkshires.
    • Associated Industries of Massachusetts – The Road to Immunity Join Dr. Michael Collins (UMass Medical School), Kevin Cranston (Mass. Department of Public Health), and Maura McLaughlin (Brown & Joy) for a discussion about the COVID-19 vaccines and what they mean to employers.

Other Relevant Information

Webinars

  • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall Archive
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: The Visitor Economy This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Adam Davis (Managing Director, Shakespeare & Co.), Babara Vacarr (CEO, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health), Joe Thompson (Director, MASS MoCA) and Sarah Eustis (CEO, Main Street Hospitality). Panelists discussed the current state of affairs, the outlook, and the actionable opportunities their organizations are taking in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic event. (recorded 4/17/10)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall : Banking During Covid-19 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Bob Fraser (President and CEO, MountainOne), Jodi Rathbun-Briggs (Senior Vice President & Chief Lending Officer, Greylock Federal Credit Union), Gary Moynihan (Managing Director, Adelson & Company PC), Dennis Egan, Partner, Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook). Panelists discussed available resources and steps that businesses should be taking to successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. (recorded 5/1/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: Food and Agriculture in the Era of COVID-19 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Orion Howard (Co-founder and Owner, Bright Ideas Brewing), Nick Martinelli (Founder and Owner of Marty’s Local), Cynthia Pansing (Executive Director, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures), and Jessica Vecchia (Co-Director, Roots Rising). Panelist discussed the local food system is operating during COVID-19, how they have pivoted to meet the needs of the moment, and what the future of food might look like in a post-COVID economy. (recorded 5/8/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: Reopening the Berkshire Economy This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Senator Adam Hinds, Ben Sosne (Executive Director, Berkshire Innovation Center), and Jennifer Trainer Thompson (Executive Director, Hancock Shaker Village). The panel discussed the numbers that matter, budgetary impacts, and tactics and approaches needed to ensure a safe and sustainable reopening of the economic cornerstones of the region. (recorded 5/15/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: Higher Education During COVID-19 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Dr. Jamie Birge (President, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts), Dr. Ellen Kennedy (President, Berkshire Community College), Dr. Maud Mandel (President of Williams College), and Dr. John Weinstein (Provost-Elect, Bard College at Simon’s Rock). The panel discussed the decisions their institutions are making, the challenges they are facing, and the landscape they face going forward. (recorded 5/22/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: Summer in the Berkshires – Happening! But How? This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Brian Cruey (Director of Southern Berkshires, The Trustees of Reservations), Laurie Norton Moffat (Director & CEO, Norman Rockwell Museum), Mindi Morin (Managing Director, Canyon Ranch Lenox), and Lindsey Schmid (Vice President of Tourism and Marketing, 1Berkshire). (recorded 5/29/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: The Deeper Strains on Community This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Janis Broderick (Executive Director of the Elizabeth Freeman Center), Dr. Barbara Malkas (Superintendent of North Adams Public Schools), Kelly Marion (CEO of the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center), and Candace Winkler (President and CEO of Berkshire United Way). The panel discussed impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on organizations the address food insecurity, early childhood care, domestic violence, and K-12 education, and on the populations they serve. (recorded 6/5/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: New Updates to Paid Family Medical Leave This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured William Alpine (Director, Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave), Kevin Kinne (Partner, Cohen Kinne, Valicenti and Cook), and Michele Morin (Vice President of Human Resources and Workforce Development, Hillcrest Educational Centers). The panel discussed changes to the Paid Family Medical Leave Act and how it could impact businesses in the Berkshires as the Act goes into effect. (recorded 6/19/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall: Census 2020 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured State Representative Paul Mark (Second Berkshire District), Michelle Lopez (Executive Director, Berkshire Immigrant Center), Mark Maloy (GIS, Data, and IT Manager, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission), Erica Girgenti (Director, Adams Council on Aging), and Mark Sebastino (Partnership Specialist, U.S. Census Bureau). The panel discussed why the 2020 Census is conducted, why counting every person is critical for the Berkshires, and how viewers can get involved in ensuring a complete count. (recorded 7/1/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall – Reopening the Economy – Phase 3 This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Senator Adam Hinds, John Lewis (Chief Executive Storyteller, SP3AK EASY Studio), Eric Kerns (Partner, TOURISTS), Jennifer Trainer Thompson (President and CEO, Hancock Shaker Village) discussing the steps, logistics, and potential impacts of Phase 3 reopening here in the Berkshires. (recorded 7/10/20)
    • 1Berkshire Virtual Town Hall – Reopening  Higher Education This panel conversation and Q&A-style town hall featured Gina Puc (Dean of Enrollment Management and Community Relations, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts), Matthew Sheehy (Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration, Williams College), Adam Klepetar (Interim Provost, Berkshire Community College), and John B. Weinstein (Provost and Vice President, Bard College at Simon’s Rock) discussing the logistics, outlook, and peripheral impacts of the reopening plan for higher education institutions.
  • Federal Communications Commission Emergency Broadband Benefit Program – This program provides a temporary discount on monthly broadband bills for qualifying low-income households. If your household is eligible, you could receive up to $50/month discount on broadband service and equipment rentals (or $75/month if your household is on qualifying tribal lands), and a one-time discount of up to $100 on a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-pay of at least $10 but less than $50).
  • The Massachusetts Broadband Institute and KCST have launched public hotspots in several Massachusetts towns still waiting on completion of broadband networks to provide free access to students, teachers, entrepreneurs, and others. Towns in the Berkshires with these hotspots, or with municipally-launched hotspots are: Becket, Egremont, Florida, Monterey, New Marlborough, Sandisfield, Savoy, Washington, and Windsor.
  • Mass Internet Connect – The Massachusetts Broadband Institute has launched a program to support internet connectivity for Massachusetts residents working with MassHire and actively seeking a job. Unemployed job seekers that satisfy program requirements may be eligible for subsidized internet service through June 30, 2021, access to a computer, and access to digital literacy training resources.
  • The Support Network’s Virtual Support Group for Parents: Schedule & Referral Form
  • Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) – Provides food supports to help families with children who were receiving free and reduced-price school meals pay for food. See additional information here and here.
    • More P-EBT benefits were added in September 2020 to cover the days that school buildings are closed due to delayed start and/or students that are at home learning remotely for at least five days in a row. Click here to learn about September P-EBT.
  • buoy Symptom Checker. Massachusetts residents can use this tool to get advice from an online health assistant safely at home, for free.
  • 413cares.org is an innovative community portal providing online access for residents of Western Massachusetts to available resources like housing, healthcare, early education, and more. If you need help and aren’t sure where to start, type in your zip code and take a look.
  • Elizabeth Freeman Center – free and confidential counseling, shelter, legal advocacy, safety planning, teen dating violence prevention education, a 24/7 hotline, and much more
  • Massachusetts Health Connector
  • Neighbor-to-Neighbor Grant from Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation
  • Mobile Worker Toolkit 
  • Resources for Freelance Artists
  • Assets For Artists Webinars for a Post-COVID World – Assets for Artists has redesigned its business and financial education programming to provide artists with new, crisis-focused, distance learning opportunities.
  • Coronavirus Tips: Frequently Asked Questions and Advice – easy to read and full of useful info and tips.
  • Webinars
    • MassHire Berkshire Career Center Weekly webinars. Click here for the calendar, then register for specific events from there.
      • Online Job Search Strategies. Learn online job search strategies and how to apply for jobs online. Pre-registration is required. Mondays, 11:00AM.
      • Job Club. Job Club expands your network of contacts and serves as a support group throughout your job search process Pre-registration is required. Mondays 1:00PM.
      • WIOA Orientation. Orientation for Job Seekers seeking training, Career Counselor, or individualized services. MUST attend a Career Center Seminar prior to orientation. Tuesdays, 10:00AM.
      • Career Center Seminar. An overview of services, resources, and options available at the Career Center. You must attend a seminar to be assigned to an Employment Specialist. Pre-registration is required. Wednesdays, 1:00PM.
      • Creating Your Resume. Learn to create the perfect marketing tool to use in your job search- your resume. From formatting to using action words to showcase your skills and abilities, you will have the tools necessary to put together this important document. References and cover letters are also discussed. Thursdays, 10:00AM.
      • Interview More Effectively. Present a positive first impression, know what to expect, and be prepared for each stage of the interview. Plan answers for potential interview questions and develop self confidence in the process. Thursdays, 11:30AM.
    • Entrepreneur Crisis Management Series – Staying Calm and Being Productive While Working From Home (recorded)

For Individuals:

  • Food Security
    • Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) – Provides food supports to help families with children who were receiving free and reduced-price school meals pay for food. See additional information here and here.
  • Other
    • Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation – Neighbor-to-Neighbor Grant Neighbor-to-Neighbor makes small grants (up to $1,000 during the response to COVID-19) to help those with overdue utilities, medical bills, short-term housing costs and transportation problems.
    • One Fair Wage – Tipped & Service Workers Support Fund Providing cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers and more who need the money they aren’t getting to survive.
    • Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Program – Emergency funding to those employed by or owning restaurants or bars, or employed by a restaurant or bar supplier facing unforeseen expenses that cannot or will not be covered by insurance.
    • The Awesome Foundation – Monthly grants of $1,000 available.

For Businesses and Organizations:

  • BIPOC- and Women-owned Businesses
    • BIPOC-Owned Business Grants
    • Women-Owned Business Grants
      • Amber Grants for Women – Grants up to $10,000 each month. One Amber Grant application enters a woman-owned business for all other applicable grants WomensNet funds.
      • Grants for Women.org. Clearinghouse of many available grants.
      • Ifundwomen.com – Clearinghouse for programs that support women-owned businesses.
  • General Business Support
    • City of Pittsfield
      • COVID-19 Small Business Fund – Small businesses within the City of Pittsfield may be eligible for funds to cover wages, rent, loss of inventory, and other fixed costs, up to $10,000 per business. Priority will be given to minority and women-owned businesses, as well as businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
    • Commonwealth of Massachusetts
      • Community One Stop for Growth – A single application portal and collaborative review process of grant programs that make targeted investments based on a Development Continuum. Ten state programs will use this portal, including the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Developments’ Massworks, Urban Agenda, and 43D Expedited Permitting programs, the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Housing Choice Community Capital Grants, Massachusetts Downtown Initiative, Community Planning Grants, and Rural Development Fund, and MassDevelopment’s Brownfields, Site Readiness, and Underutilized Properties program.
      • Massachusetts Vacant Storefronts Program  – The purpose of the program is to help municipalities of the Commonwealth in their efforts to revitalize their downtowns and commercial areas.  Municipalities may apply to the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council (EACC) for certification to designate a defined downtown or other commercial area, as a Certified Vacant Storefront District.  After achieving such a designation, and achieving a commitment of local matching funds, businesses or individuals may apply to the EACC for refundable EDIP tax credits for leasing and occupying a vacant storefront in that district.
      • Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation
        • Biz-M-Power Grant – This program is focused on assisting low-income and moderate-income entrepreneurs with acquisition, expansion, improvement, or lease of a facility, purchase or lease of equipment, or with meeting other capital needs of a business through crowdfunding. The objective of this grant is to provide entrepreneurs with new knowledge and skills for growing their business and advancing toward innovative approaches to obtaining capital through the earned support of local residents, neighborhoods, community members, and stakeholders alike. Businesses must be nominated by Small Business Technical Assistance  (SBTA) providers.
        • Empower Digital Grant – This program seeks to support the development of digital capabilities and consequent growth of small businesses of socially- and economically-disadvantaged individuals with the support of MassDevelopment’s Small Business Technical Assistance providers. Businesses must be nominated by SBTA providers.
    • Federal Government
      • Grants.gov – Clearinghouse for federal grant opportunities.
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
    • LISC Small Business Relief Grants – Grants of $5,000, $7,000, $10,000, and $20,000 for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep them functioning and remaining vital facets of their local economies. Priority will be given to entrepreneurs of color, women- and veteran-owned businesses and other enterprises in historically under-served places. Applications are presently closed. Stay tuned for the next round of applications.
    • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Rural Relief Small Business Grants – Grants support for-profit businesses across the country in communities of 50,000 or less. Applications presently closed. Stay tuned for the next round of applications.
  • National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)
    • Growth Grants – Up to $4,000 for small businesses. (Must be a NASE member)
  • Verizon Small Business Digital Ready This online coaching program provides small businesses with personalized tools to succeed in the digital world, including learning modules, expert coaching, peer networking, and more.
    • Registering and completing two courses or coaching events makes businesses eligible to apply for a $10,000 grant.
  • Innovation Challenges/RFPs

Grants and Relief Funds

  • Artist Relief – Apply for a grant of $5,000. Available to practicing artists experiencing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19 who have lived and worked in the United States for the last two years.
  • Tipped & Service Workers Support Fund
  • Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Program – Emergency funding to those employed by or owning restaurants or bars, or employed by a restaurant or bar supplier facing unforeseen expenses that cannot or will not be covered by insurance.

Best Practices & Tips

  • Practice good hygiene
    • Wash hands often. Avoid touching your face.
    • Avoid close contact. Practice social distancing (at least 6 feet).
    • Wear a mask in public or around people you do not live with.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
    • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and areas.
  • Avoid meetings & travel
    • Use video and phone conferencing options when possible.
    • Postpone large meetings, gatherings, and events.
    • Assess the risks of business travel.
    • Limit your personal interactions with people who do not live in your household.
  • Stay home if…
    • If you feel sick, stay home.
    • If your immediate family feels sick, stay home.
    • Give sick family members their own room, if possible, and have only one family member care for them. Consider providing additional protections for household members who are 65 years or older, or who have underlying conditions. Limit visitors.
  • Stay calm & prepare
    • Stay calm. Know the signs and symptoms. Follow official resources to stay informed.
    • Consider stocking up on 30-day supply of prescriptions, plus non-perishable foods and toiletries. Please refrain from wiping out store shelves. 
    • Establish plans to telework, arrangements for childcare, ways to communicate with family and friends, and how to adapt to cancelled events.
    • Check in on neighbors and friends, especially people who live alone.

Questions or Concerns?

1Berkshire is currently operating remotely to service the needs of the community during these trying times. Our team is actively engaging with all our stakeholders to ensure the prosperity of our region. Please feel free to reach out to us at info@1berkshire or call us at (413) 499-1600.

Together, we can keep our Berkshire community and economy healthy and strong.