After 27 years at the podium, Sheffield Town Moderator Dr. Bruce Person will wield his gavel for the last time on May 2.
That night the retired dentist will preside over his last annual town meeting in the Mount Everett Regional School auditorium, the scene of some contentious votes during his nearly three decades in office.
For personal reasons, the Connecticut native isn't seeking re-election to the post running the yearly gathering at which townspeople decide how to spend their tax dollars and what new bylaws should be enacted to govern the municipality.
Person has never missed an annual town meeting — or any special town meetings between the annuals — going in well versed on procedure and the articles up for consideration.
Often, the moderator's challenge lies with keeping order and decorum during the meetings.
"The biggest problem is having townspeople direct all their questions and comments to me," Person told County Fare.
On rare occasions, Person came close to having an unruly speaker removed — even the one who took pot-shots at him.
"I was once called a Fascist," he recalled, "but calmer heads prevailed and the gentleman sat down."
Nevertheless, Person has enjoyed watching the ultimate democratic process in action.
"You can't find anything more pure than the New England town meeting," he said.
Worth the drive
In her Dec. 21, 2015, piece "8 Reasons to Drive to the Berkshires," Sara Ventiera offers readers of the New York City edition of the Zagat guide a list of places to eat, as assisted by the Berkshire Visitors Bureau.
"Set in the mountains of Western Massachusetts, the Berkshires have long been an escape for city-dwellers from both NYC and Boston seeking respite from the grind of urban life," she writes, offering "eight edible reasons to drive there this weekend."
Making the list are: Methuselah Bar and Lounge and District Kitchen & Bar in Pittsfield; Chez Nous Bistro in Lee; The Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough; No. Six Depot Roastery & Cafe in West Stockbridge; Alta Restaurant + Wine Bar in Lenox; Café 7 at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown; and Pleasant & Main in Housatonic.
Learn more about what Zagat has to say about the Berkshires at zagat.com or by downloading its mobile app.
A visionary honored
IMAGINE Magazine will hold its "Imaginnaire Awards Gala," at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Royal Sonesta in Boston. Among the honorees is Berkshire-based director, Academy Award winner, and visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull. Award recipients are selected based on their accomplishments and contributions to the New England film, television and new media industries. Trumbull's credits include "Blade Runner," "2001: A Space Odyssey," "The Tree of Life" and his latest 3-D short film, "UFOTOG," among numerous others.
Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative Executive Director Diane Pearlman, a past Imaginnaire recipient, will also be on hand as a presenter. Learn more at imaginenews.com/imagine-magazines-imaginnaires-award-party.
A continuously rising star
Lenox native and actor Finn Wittrock, 31, is enjoying a headline-making new year.
His roles in "American Horror Story" series earned him 2015 Prime Time Emmy and Critics Choice Television award nominations for top supporting actor in a limited series or movie. He also earned a second-place award for his AHS roles in the 2015 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards. He even got a shout-out from his "AHS: Hotel" co-star Lady Gaga during her Sunday night Golden Globe Award acceptance speech for best actress in her division.
He was additionally nominated for the "We're Wilde About You! Rising Star Award" presented by the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critic Association's 2014-15 Dorian Awards.
Wittrock has gathered further acclaim and interviews for his role as a young investor in the 2015 comedic Wall Street drama, "The Big Short," co-starring Christian Bale, fellow Bay Stater Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt.
The cast is currently nominated for a 2016 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Wittrock accepted the Ensemble Performance Award for the film onstage at the 27th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala held on Jan. 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. You can also read his New York Times interview with co-stars Gosling and Carell online at: http://ow.ly/WXuPs.
The actor's 2016 home entertainment releases include "My All American," co-starring Aaron Eckhart, and "The Submarine Kid," in which he plays a U.S. Marine returning home in the lead role and also makes his feature film writing debut.
Big screen projects in the works include the comedic musical "La La Land," which stars Wittrock, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and J.K. Simmons. He's also working on a comedic drama called "Abe" in which he plays a dual role. The film is set to be released in 2017.
And when he's not busy making movies, Wittrock's Twitter account indicates he's rallying for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Follow all the latest on Wittrock on Twitter @FinnWittrock.