More on Great Barrington

Tuesday, March 06
The innovative, highly regarded early liberal-arts college known informally as Simon's Rock occupies a scenic campus off Alford Road. It was founded in 1964 by educator Elizabeth Blodgett Hall and opened in 1966, initially for women only, on Great Pine Farm, a property owned by Hall's family. It has about 350 students from age 16 upward. It is named after a glacial remnant in the woods surrounding the campus. The college has been known as "Simon's Rock," "Simon's Rock Early College," "Simon's Rock of Bard College" (after it was acquired by that institution based in Annandale, N.Y.) and "Simon's Rock College of Bard." The Board of Trustees will vote later this month on the latest proposed name change, "Bard College at Simon's Rock." Teachers are addressed by students on a first-name basis. The recently completed Daniel Arts Center on the Simon's Rock campus hosts a variety of live performances. On Dec. 15, 1992, Simon's Rock student Wayne Lo opened fire with a gun purchased the previous day in Pittsfield. He killed one student and injured three others and is serving a life sentence in state prison.

On May 29, 1995, a powerful tornado ripped through the center of Great Barrington after cutting a 45-mile, west-to-east swath of destruction from central Columbia County, N.Y., along Route 23 to the town of Monterey. The National Weather Service ranked it as a borderline category 4, with wind speeds as high as 210 mph. Three people were killed (a staff member and two students at the private Eagleton School), at least 24 people were injured, and damage was estimated at $25 million.

Fairview Hospital, part of Berkshire Health Systems, is one of the smallest in the state; because of a regional population that would otherwise be underserved, it gets an extra infusion of federal aid. It recently reported a $500,000 surplus, reversing the previous tide of red ink. But it could face a loss of $670,000 in federal aid over five years if President Bush's proposed cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements are approved by Congress. A group of cancer specialists is leaving the hospital in a dispute over leased space. The town and its surroundings face a deepening shortage of primary-care physicians and dentists.

The village of Housatonic, part of Great Barrington, included 1,135 residents in the year 2000. It has its own post office. A major employer in the Risingdale neighborhood, Fox River Paper Co., formerly Rising Paper Co., is being sold to Neenah Paper Co. The impact on the plant, which employs nearly 150, is unclear.

The Railroad Street Youth Project is a resource center operated by area residents, and funds community projects on a $10,000 annual budget. It has been instrumental in mediating an ongoing dispute between Triplex Cinema owner Richard Stanley and young people who congregate in the adjacent parking lot; some of them are viewed by certain merchants, residents and visitors as unruly and disruptive. Stanley briefly deployed a high-frequency sonic device, "The Mosquito," to discourage the youths from congregating in the area. The tactic aroused intense controversy.

— Clarence Fanto


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