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North Adams Swears In Firefighter, Police Officer
Staff Reports On: 12:04PM / Friday December 16, 2011
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North Adams has two new public safety personnel in Police Officer Ben Austin and firefighter Kevin Alicia. The two were sworn in by Mayor Richard Alcombright last month to comply with a public safety grant but had their public swearing in for family and friends at Tuesday's City Council meeting.



     
North Adams Blaze Blamed on Oil Burner
By Robert Mangiamele On: 11:50PM / Friday December 02, 2011
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Firefighters quickly doused a small oil burner fire on South Street on Friday night.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Smoke alarms did their job on Friday and protected the house at 33 South St. from burning down.

The first 911 call occurred around 9 p.m. after the homeowners were alerted when their smoke alarms went off. A second call, a few minutes later reporting the same fire, confirmed it.

The home owners met Police Officer Mike Goodson in their front yard, then took him around back and down the basement stairs where the fire was. Two fire trucks responded to the scene and quickly contained a small blaze in the basement.     

"It was a small basement fire that the oil burner caused," said Fire Director Stephen Meranti at the scene.

The fire trucks blocked up both ends of the street, which connects Spring Street and Washington Avenue, and police detoured traffic.

"The smoke alarms did their job to — keep a small fire, small that is," said Meranti. "Keeping a small fire small is a goal firemen and police officers hope to quickly establish in these situations."

There were no injuries but large fans were brought in to take ventilate the house and eject the smoke (and its strong smell) left behind.

Meranti said it was not clear why the fire started at the oil burner but he recommended residents get winter heating appliances anually checked, "whether it be gas, electric or oil," to prevent accidents.

The road was reopened before 10 p.m.


     
Teen Accused of High School Internet Threat Arraigned
Staff Reports On: 12:53PM / Monday November 14, 2011
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An Adams man accused of making threats on Facebook against Drury High School students last week was arraigned on multiple charges Monday morning in Northern Berkshire District Court.

Zachary Barbeau, 19, of Commercial Street appeared before Judge Paul Vrabel.

Barbeau had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of threatening the use of a deadly weapon and causing disruption of a school, threat to commit murder and disruption of a public assembly.

Vrabel released him on personal recognizance; he will be back in court on Dec. 13 for a bind-over hearing.

Barbeau was arrested on Thursday after police tracked the Internet service provider address connected to the Facebook threat. The alleged threat was discovered on Thursday, Nov. 10, and Barbeau, a 2008 Drury graduate, was arrested later that day.  

The investigation was conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, state troopers assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and members of the North Adams and Adams Police departments. 


     
Facebook Threat Regarding Drury High Leads to Arrest
By Andy McKeever On: 03:45PM / Thursday November 10, 2011
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Updated Nov. 10, 2011, at 5:23 p.m. and rewritten throughout; updated with further clarification on the reported "lockdown" at 9:16 a.m., Nov. 11.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Drury High School officials took extra safety precautions and police arrested a suspect Thursday afternoon after someone posted a threat on social media site Facebook earlier in the morning.

Local officials were mum on details early Thursday but a statement from the superintendent's office said an incident had occurred but there was no evidence that there was any imminent danger to the people in the building. Classes resumed as normal but after-school activities were canceled for a faculty meeting.

According to the district attorney's office, Zach Barbeau, 19, of Adams was arrested in connection with the threat. He was charged with single counts of threatening the use of a deadly weapon and causing the disruption of a school, threat to commit murder, and disruption of a public assembly. He was released pending arraignment in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday morning.

Barbeau, a former student, allegedly posted the threat on a fictitious account. Investigators with the state police assigned to the district attorney's office and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force as well as North Adams and Adams police collaborated with Facebook and Verizon Internet Services to track the posting to Barbeau's address.

Investigators say he did not have access to a gun and had no intention of carrying out the threat.

After the threat was posted, school officials say they took additional safety measures while police investigated the claims. The district attorney's office said the school was put on lock down; the superintendent's office said that was not the case.

According to a student, who did not wish to be named, police were not allowing students to drive up to the school after classes began and the K9 officer and dog were in the school.

Students were not allowed to use their cell phones nor were they allowed to be in the hallways without permission; several were told to stay away from the windows. Existing rules, such as the school district's cell phone policy, were being followed, according to the superintendent's office, and reports of a K9 officer inside the school and other police action was incorrect.

The rumor was that it was another student who had posted the threats. And while the regular rules may have been enforced, the atmosphere was charged.

"It was tense ... it was like high maintenance," said the student.

Several parents posted on Facebook that they went to the high school and removed their children. According to the superintendent's office, 20 students out the 554 enrolled at Drury were dismissed early.


     
North Adams Police Charge Former Rink Manager With Theft
By Andy McKeever On: 02:20PM / Monday October 31, 2011
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The former manager the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink has been charged with larceny and city officials are alleging more than $20,000 is missing from the public facility's accounts.

Katherine Wilk, 27, of Adams was arraigned on charges of larceny more than $250 on Friday in Northern Berkshire District Court for allegedly taking cash from the rink's receipts.

Wilk was terminated this past spring after an administrative investigation. According to court documents, Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco was notified by the city's Office of Community Development on July 29 that more than $22,000 was missing from fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

Police interviewed two rink employees, who both told police that they had seen Wilk take $40 in cash from the rink on two separate occasions — once from receipts and once from the skate shop, according to court documents. According to police, Wilk admitted in an interview on Sept. 19 to taking about $500 in cash but claimed she had always returned the amounts. However, police said she could not provide documentation that the money had been returned.

Wilk refused to let the interview be recorded and refused to provide a written statement admitting to taking the money, according to court documents. A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 22.

If convicted, Wilk could face up five years in prison or up to two years in jail and a fine of not more than $25,000.


     
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