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Cheshire Police Seeking Information on Playground Vandalism

By Jack Guerino

CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Cheshire Police Department is asking for residents with any information to contact the station about vandalism at the school playground.

According to a post Monday afternoon on the department's Facebook page the new playground equipment at Cheshire Elementary school has been vandalized.

The post read:

"Someone has vandalized the new playground equipment that numerous volunteers spent countless hours erecting. Now those same volunteers are spending their Columbus Day scrubbing and cleaning the equipment."

The police are investigating and urge residents with any information call the cruiser cell phone at 413-446-3920 or the station at 413-743-1501 and leave a message.

"In such a close tight knit Community, we cannot allow for this to happen again," read the post. "Thanks for your help and a BIG thanks to the volunteers over there cleaning it up."

Last year the Cheshire Parent-Teacher Group inquired of the Selectmen about the possibility of replacing old equipment.

The playground committee needed to raise $12,000 for the equipment that would be matched by the playground developer.

After receiving a William and Margery Barrett Fund grant for $8,000, in addition to $4,000 of raised money, the playground committee was able to install the playground.


Pittsfield Police Asking Residents To ID Stolen Property

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police have recovered hundreds of pieces of jewelry and other items that are not matching up with their records of items reported stolen in a recent rash of break-ins.

Anyone who has had their home broken into prior to March 22 is being asked to identify their possessions at an open house on Saturday, June 8, from 10 to 2 at the Police Department on Allen Street.

Police say the items either haven't been reported stolen or were stolen from homes outside of city. The investigation is being done by state, Cheshire, Lanesborough and Pittsfield police. Some of the recovered property has already be linked to break-ins in those communities and in Richmond.

Police have arrested Christopher Maschino Jr., 21, and Anne Haughey, 21, both of Pittsfield, in connection with the break-ins.

Even if the owners of the seized property can identify it, they cannot take possession of their items immediately because they are being held as evidence until released by the district attorney's office.

Attendees are required to bring a valid identification to the open house and are asked to bring any ownership documents.


Cheshire Accident Sends Four to Hospital

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

The Yaris was totaled and had to be towed away.

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Four people were taken to the hospital and a section of Route 8 was closed after a three-car accident at the Lanesborough Road intersection.

According to police, a 2009 Nissan Frontier driven by Earl Kahill, 72, of Hampton, N.Y. failed to stop at the end of Lanesborough Road and continued into the highway, colliding with a 2007 Toyota Yaris driven by Christopher Plankey, 33, of Adams.

The Frontier then spun off the road and hit a parked car in Joanie's parking lot.

Police said Kahill was unable to see the stop sign because of the heavy fog.

Unusually warm temperatures caused heavy fog throughout the region as the evening progressed.

Four of the five people in the Yaris suffered injuries and were transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. Police said the injuries were not life-threatening.

The Yaris was totaled and the Frontier had a broken axle, which could lead to it being deemed totaled as well.

The accident occurred shortly after 8 p.m. and traffic was rerouted over Farnam's Road and over Lanesborough Road. Adams, Action and County ambulance services responded to the scene; Lanesborough Police worked the detour at Farnam's Road.

The road was reopened shortly after 9 p.m.


Adams-Cheshire Administrator Faces Drug Charge

Staff Reports

CHESHIRE, Mass. — A police investigation led to the arrest on Thursday morning of an employee of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.

Supervisor of Special Services Kurt M. Garivaltis, 45, is being charged with possession of a Class B substance, Percocet. He is to be arraigned on Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Northern Berkshire District Court.

Superintendent Kristen Gordon confirmed on Friday that an employee was arrested after an ongoing investigation led authorities to do a car search in the school's parking lot and a search of the employee's office at about 7:45 a.m. on Thursday.

"At about 9 a.m., the authorities informed me they were going to make an arrest at that time and we put the school in a soft lockdown," said Gordon, who estimated the lockdown lasted about 11 minutes and was done to shield the children from seeing someone they knew in handcuffs.

She said at no time was anyone in any danger and the investigation had nothing to do with firearms or anything related to that.

"The authorities were extremely respectful of the fact this was an elementary school," she said, adding that the individual "is not working at the moment."

The arrest was made by the Berkshire State Police Detective Unit after executing a search warrant. According to a report filed in court by Trooper Daren W. Snyder, detectives discovered Percocet during the search "for which [Garivaltis] did not have a prescription."


Cheshire Home Severely Damaged by Fire

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Firefighters cut holes in the roof to access to the flames.

CHESHIRE, Mass. — A single-family home on School Street was severely damaged by fire on Thursday afternooon.

Firefighters responded to the call at about 3 p.m. of a fire in the basement.

"When they got here the fire had spread into the walls and up into the ceiling," said Fire Chief Tom Francesconi. "The first crews found heavy smoke, not a lot of fire at first, but when they made entry into the back of the house they found heavy fire near the furnace and in the chimney area."

Francesconi said it took about a 30 to 40 minutes to knock the visible flames down; firefighters were still mopping up at about 4:30.

Lanesborough and Adams fire departments also responded, Dalton covered the Cheshire fire house and North Adams Ambulance brought its rehab unit.

The fire chief said no one was injured but the homeowner's cat was said to be missing. Earlier reports from the scene were that the house was unoccupied at the time, but Francesconi could not confirm that.

According to the documents on file at the Registry of Deeds, the house has been owned by Michael Gallagher since November.

The fire is believed to have started in the basement at the back of the house but the cause has not yet been determined.

"There is heavy smoke damage," said Francesconi, who added he had not yet been inside. But had walked around the perimeter. "The backside of the house has quite a bit of fire damage. ... Definitely a lot of smoke and fire damage on the bottom, as you can see, the bottom skirt area. The fire got into that crawlspace and went right up the walls into the attic."

The fire chief said single-digit temperatures were not a hindrance but were taxing for firefighters. They were taking advantage the rehab unit's heated tent.

"There's heat and everything in the tent, so we've been rotating firefighters in and out of the tent," he said. "It's helped a lot."

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