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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.

     

North Adams Firefighters Douse Car Fire

Staff Reports
Firefighters doused a car fire on Sunday afternoon.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters made short work of a car fire on Sunday afternoon but the vehicle was a total loss.

Chris Bonnivier of Adams said he was driving down Curran Highway when his 1999 Volvo sedan began smoking from the engine compartment just before 3 p.m.

He pulled into the parking lot of the former North Adams Plaza and got out of the car before the engine burst into flame. The dark smoke billowing out the parking lot could be seen from Hodges Cross Road.

"I really liked that car," said Bonnivier, who added the sedan had some 200,000 miles on it. "I've never had anything like that happen to me before."

The interior of the car was totally gutted, some of the tire popped and the windows blew out. Fire Lt. John Paciorek said it would be difficult to impossible to determine what caused the fire. "Everything in there is incinerated."

Surprisingly, Bonnivier was able to recover one of the three briefcases he had in the car. One in the back seat survived but was dripping as he pulled it out. "You guys overdid the water," he joked.

No one was injured and remains of the car were removed.

     

North Adams Men Charged in Holyoke Purse Snatching

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Masslive.com is reporting that two city men have been arrested for allegedly stealing a purse from a 73-year-old woman at the Holyoke Mall.

The news site reports that Jesse Sprague, 31, of Cliff Street and Patrick Gaffey, 45, of Daniels Road were arrested shortly after noon on Thursday after state police pulled over the white van that Gaffey was driving south on Interstate 91.

Sprague allegedly grabbed the woman's purse as she was walking to her car from the lower level of Macy's and jumped in the van. According to police reports, he allegedly ran off after the van was stopped and arrested after troopers caught him.

Gaffey was charged with traffic violations, including speeding and driving with a suspended license; Sprague was charged with disorderly conduct. Both were charged "with unarmed robbery of a person 65 or older," according to Masslive.

     
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