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Motor Vehicle Accident Closes Curran Highway

Staff Reports
A two-vehicle accident closed Curran Highway on Tuesday.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Curran Highway was closed shortly after 11 a.m. on Tuesday after a state Department of Transportation truck sheared off a utility pole in front of South Side Sales & Service and Mr. Tire.

Police are reporting that the northbound state truck attempted to avoid the southbound sedan, which was making a lefthand turn. The driver of the sedan was cited. It was initially believed that both vehicles were heading in the same direction.

The highway was closed because it was feared the heavy utility pole could pull down the poles on each side of it. At least three National Grid trucks and crews were at the scene to the replace the pole and move the lines and transformers.

Authorities had hoped to have the road open by 1 p.m.

Police and emergency responders were still at the scene at about 12:30 p.m. The truck had been removed from the pole. One ambulance had left the scene but another was still there. It was not clear how many people had been in the vehicles but none of the occupants were transported to the hospital.

The truck and car, which has Vermont plates, suffered significant front-end damage. Traffic was being detoured over Old State Street, behind United Cerebral Palsy.

At the time of the crash, Mr. Tire was filled to capacity with motorists trying to get snow tires on their cars; South Side Sales & Service had several pieces of equipment displayed around the pole. That stretch also includes Dean's Quality Auto & Truck repair and towing, which removed the truck from the scene.


Employee Facing Charges In North Adams Robbery

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Stamford, Vt., woman was arraigned in Superior Court on Wednesday for allegedly stealing from the Corner Market in North Adams and then lying about it to police.
Lois Aubin, 44, had not-guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of larceny more than $250 and misleading a police officer or other person. She was released on personal recognizance.
As an employee of the Corner Market, she allegedly took about $1,700 from the store on Aug. 17, 2013, and was not truthful with investigators when telling them what happened to the money.
On that date, police responded to an alleged armed robbery at the store and the clerk was reportedly injured. 
Police said the clerk was alone in the store at the time of the alleged robbery and that law enforcement launched a search for two men, either African-American or Hispanic, with one dressed in black and the other in orange. A K-9 unit was called from Lanesborough in the search.

North Adams Councilor Gets Restraint Order on Cardimino

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Robert Cardimino has been ordered to stay 100 yards away from City Councilor Jennifer Breen for the next year.

Breen filed for a restraining order after she said was verbally and physically attacked during election day campaigning in front of St. Elizabeth's Parish Center, where voting was taking place.

Cardimino, also candidate for City Council, denied anything untoward had taken place.

"When she said I spit on her that was very erroneous," he told Judge Laurie Macleod in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday afternoon. He also said he didn't shove her, but rather in the crowded corner where they were standing, they had bumped into each other. "You have to understand, it was shoulder to shoulder."

Several police officers, however, testified that Cardimino had pushed her or acted out. Officer Fran Maruco testified that Cardimino had refused to follow instructions at the polls.

Maruco had also told him to stop reaching over a low wall along the walkway to shake voters hands. Cardimino had been unhappy with that and said it violated his rights.

Breen's mother, Mary Ellen Breen, and friend Maryanne Santelli testified to other incidents, including saying Cardimino had stopped his truck at the median at Marshall and West Main streets to yell at Breen and her mother, who were standing with campaign signs. Mary Ellen Breen said he yelled "I'm going to beat you" several times and it rattled them enough that they left soon after.

Cardimino said Breen had said racist things about his wife, a Filipino-American, which had prompted earlier this year to start wearing a T-shirt denouncing her as such. "I told every African-American voter that came by, I tipped them off that Councilor Breen is a racist," he said.

He found little sympathy with Macleod, who instituted the restraining order for a year and warned him that violating it was a criminal offense.

"She has established, in my mind, she is afraid of you because of the actions you have done," said MacLeod.

For his part, Cardimino, a frequent gadfly at council meetings for a number of years, said he was done with politics after his poor showing in the election.

"I know that I have no popularity," he said, adding he was giving up his public access television show and wouldn't be attending council meetings.

Cardimino made a similar vow two years ago when he lost his first run for City Council but found it hard to stay away. Last year, he was served a no-trespass order banning him from council chambers after a verbal confrontation with Councilor Marie Hairpin; he's also been removed from meetings for being disruptive.

Breen said she was happy with the outcome.


North Adams Kitchen Fire Forces Owner to Flee

Staff Reports
Firefighters responded to a kitchen fire on State Road on Sunday evening.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A kitchen fire at about 4 p.m. at 70 State Road on Sunday forced the owner and her 5-year-old granddaughter to flee.

Fire Director Stephen Meranti said Dolores Girard did the right thing when she found the fire in her kitchen.

"They discovered the fire and they got out," he said. When Girard had trouble using her cordless phone, "a passerby stopped and they called 911 for her."

No one was injured but a small dog that was found upstairs was given oxygen. He appeared to be doing well.

Flames were shooting out a side window when firefighters arrived. The pulled in hoses through the front of the house to attack the blaze. Police had arrived first and determined everyone was out except for one of two dogs.

"The guys knocked it down before I even got here," Meranti said, after viewing the damage inside the single-family home. "They did a really good job."

Meranti said the fire appears to have started in the vicinity of the stove; the kitchen incurred water and fire damage and the rest of the house has significant smoke damage. The health inspector determined all the food in the kitchen could not be salvaged. The side window had to be pulled out and burnt wood and materials was piled outside it.

Girard's daughter, Carol Girard Lemaire, said her mother and niece were weathering the incident and members of their large family had arrived at the home to help.

"She's shaken up but she's OK, the little girl's OK but she was shaken up, too," she said. "Mom's got eight of us, so all eight of us are around here and we'll find a place for her."

Firefighters were using fans to air out the building and expected to be there throughout the night along with a police presence. North Adams Ambulance Service also responded.


North Adams DPW Worker Guilty of Spilling Diesel Fuel

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A North Adams man pleaded guilty on Wednesday afternoon in Berkshire Superior Court to several charges.

Glenn A. Robert, 63,  pleaded guilty before Judge John Agostini on single counts of violation of the notification requirement of a release or threat of release of oil or hazardous waste, illegal disposal of hazardous waste and discharging a pollutant into the waters of the commonwealth.

Agostini continued the charges without a finding for two years on the condition that Robert pay restitution to the city of North Adams in the amount of $3,868 to compensate it for a environmental report required by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Robert, a North Adams Public Works employee, spilled approximately 20 gallons of diesel fuel at the Department of Public Works garage in North Adams on Oct. 15, 2012.

The investigation was conducted by investigators assigned to the Department of Environmental Protection. Mayor Richard Alcombright said Robert was suspended for a month but the longtime employee will be back to work.

Robert was apparently fueling up a machine when he went inside the office to log the gallons. When he came out, the pump had slipped from the machine and fuel was going into a nearby drain that goes into the river. Alcombright said the city was notified of a strong smell of fuel from Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Robert tried to soak up the fuel with Speedi-Dri and booms were put in the river to contain the spill.

Updated on Nov. 14, 2013, with further information.

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